By creating new alliances between the arts, humanities, and the environmental sciences, the Environmental Humanities Initiative offers educational, research, and outreach programs that will help humankind make the difficult turn toward a more sustainable life on Earth. Our times present challenges that are unprecedented in their complexity, danger, and scale. At the same time, they present correspondingly important opportunities. Meeting these challenges and opportunities will require new ideas and new forms of intellectual and cultural leadership based on a scientific understanding of Earth’s environmental and ecological systems, and grounded in a deep understanding of the sources of human wisdom and values. Neither the sciences nor the humanities can meet the challenges alone. Together, we have a chance.

Our missionThe Environmental Arts and Humanities Initiative brings humanities scholars and scientists into close collaboration and, by that means, brings together the full powers of empirical knowledge and cultural, moral, and spiritual understanding. The collaboration empowers OSU to respond creatively and effectively to the world’s emergency call for new or better ideas about how we might live wisely, justly, and sustainably.

What are environmental arts and humanities? 

The arts and humanities (philosophy, history, religious studies, literature, music, theater, etc.) are conceptual discourses that work in the world of creative imagination, conceptual analysis, and historical and moral reasoning. In contrast, the sciences, natural resource sciences, and social sciences (zoology, chemistry, fisheries, sociology, anthropology, etc.) are empirical discourses that work in the world of experimental and observational data, models, and the scientific method. OSU provides excellent graduate degrees in the environmental sciences and social sciences. The M.A. degree in Environmental Arts and Humanities will provide comparable excellence, that will teach arts/humanities-based skills and understandings of the natural environment and create a fruitful transdisciplinary discourse among environmental arts and humanities and the sciences. In this way, the M.A. in Environmental Arts and Humanities will add a significant piece to OSU’s superb environmental curriculum, and by that means, empower students to build transdisciplinary knowledge and understanding that can be the foundation of new forms of cultural and ecological thriving on a chaotic, increasingly crowded planet. (More information on the field of environmental arts and humanities can be found on our Resources page) 

What is the M.A. in Environmental Arts and Humanities?

The M.A. degree in Environmental Arts and Humanities is designed for students with undergraduate degrees in the arts/humanities or the environmental/natural resource sciences and a deep interest in broadening their education to include arts/humanities-based perspectives and skills. In its foundation courses, the MA will provide students a reciprocal understanding of the working methods of environmental science and environmental arts/humanities. Then it invites students to focus on one of three areas: the environmental imagination (arts, communication, creative writing, moral imagination), empowered environmental action (community leadership, movement building, media power, cultural diversity, social justice, the history of structural change), or empowered environmental thinking (moral reasoning, critical thinking about environmental issues, conceptual analysis of complex problems, reasoning with facts and values). Students in the MA program will learn these skills in the context of work in a particular area of concern, work that will include courses, collaborative field experience, and the thesis.

What is the goal of the MA in Environmental Arts and Humanities?

Broadly understood, the goal of the MA is to educate students about the cultural, moral, historical, spiritual, creative, and communication dimensions of environmental issues, to prepare them for good, wise work in such positions as environmental NGO’s, government and land agencies, advocacy groups, corporations, green business, journalism, conservation and stewardship, formal and informal education, and other environmental positions that require strong, creative communication and reasoning skill sets and humanistic understanding.