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Programs in Education

SUSTAIN 140: Environmental Humanities: Finding Our Place on a Changing Planet

In this new fall course, students will explore the cultural, ethical, and philosophical roots of environmental challenges in order to make sense of a rapidly-changing reality and inform possible solutions. 

Course Description

If we suddenly woke up in a perfectly sustainable society, would our work be complete – or is there a chance that we would’ve missed the point, skirting past the difficult untangling of the environmental crisis’ cultural, ethical, and emotional roots?

This new course in Stanford’s Doerr School of Sustainability dives into the cultural, ethical, and philosophical roots of environmental challenges in order to make sense of a rapidly-changing reality and inform possible solutions.

“Environmental Humanities: Finding Our Place on a Changing Planet,” offered Fall 2022, will challenge students to reckon with the emotional challenges of witnessing global environmental change, imagine what a better future would look like, and think critically about how to get there. Students will examine unprecedented ecological destruction through a diverse array of lenses, including environmental sciences, history, philosophy, anthropology, economics, psychology, art, and Indigenous ways of knowing – as well as outdoor experiences and immersive storytelling.

The class will explore contrasting cultural paradigms around human-nature relationships and apply learnings to action – including through final projects that involve external audiences in meaningful environmental contemplation or impact. In addition to developing skills in ethical and philosophical inquiry, students will dive into intuitive and relational ways of knowing – listening, feeling, and creatively moving through some of today’s most challenging questions. Cultural works – including books, films, poetry, and prose – will guide our conversations about environmental ethics, meaning, and solutions.

See full course details in the syllabus (PDF).

*This course fulfills the Aesthetic & Interpretive Inquiry and Ethical Reasoning WAYS requirements and is cross-listed as BIO 184, ENGLISH 140D.


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Questions about the course? Email Erika Veidis, eveidis@stanford.edu.

Cover photo by Fabric Florin, Unsplash.com.

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