Environmental Humanities

Facing our Future

About Us

The Environmental Humanities Initiative fosters collaboration among faculty members from diverse disciplines on interdisciplinary courses and offers a world-class Summer Institute in the Environmental Humanities, all driven by a shared passion for the subject matter. Capitalizing on a robust Environmental Studies program and a long-standing commitment to environmental sustainability, the EH initiative enables and foregrounds sustained scholarship in the environmental humanities at Colby.

The initiative enhances opportunities for faculty collaboration across the Colby campus through an annual summer institute and yearly faculty seminars on important environmental themes, generating new scholarship to be disseminated throughout the environmental humanities community worldwide. It supports faculty in their development of project-based, laboratory-style, and interdisciplinary courses on historical, cultural, and ethical questions about the environment. It also brings leading artists, writers and thinkers to Colby, enabling new partnerships with a range of scholars, artists and practitioners from outside the campus community. Fostering deep ties with key partners on campus, the EH Initiative centers the need for humanistic inquiry in the most pressing environmental issues of our time.



Film Screening: Manzanar, Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust

March 7th | 6:00 PM | Parker Reed (SSWAC)

Organized and sponsored by the Critical Indigenous Studies Initiative. Next Monday, March 7, CISI will host a screening of Manzanar, Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust, with a panel discussion with Ann Kaneko (filmmaker) and Kathy Jefferson Bancroft (tribal historic preservation officer for the Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone Reservation). The screening will begin at 6pm, followed by the panel discussion at 7pm. Manzanar, Diverted is about histories of settler land theft and water extraction, and the continuing community activism and resilience in Owens Valley California. The Owens Valley Paiute have long called this region Payahuunadü, the place where the water always flows. Yet today this region is parched. Since the early 1900s the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) has diverted water over 200 miles away, to be used by Angelenos.


Modeling the Inhuman: Prospects for climate justice in the future with Dylan M. Harris

March 15th | 7:00pm | Ostrove

Dylan M. Harris is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography & Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. He is a broadly trained nature-society geographer with concentrations in political ecology, political economy, climate politics, experimental methods, and environmental/climate justice. He combines insights from multiple disciplines, connecting seemingly disparate threads. (e.g., folk studies and climate change). Learn more about Dylan M. Harris.


Toward Planetary Self-Awareness with Jonathon Keats

April 21st | 12:00pm | Dana 002

Ever since NASA released photographs of Earth from space, humans have been positioned to view the world as a planet. But familiarity with the Blue Marble – and recognition of the ecological interdependence of all who live on it – has yet to inspire planetary responsibility sufficient to address climate change and mass-extinction. Through his environmentally motivated work at the intersection of philosophy and art, Jonathon Keats seeks to enhance observation of planetary conditions and deepen empathic connection with all living beings. In this public conversation with Colby College professors Stacy-ann Robinson and Chris Walker, Keats will discuss projects conceived to facilitate more-than-human perception of environmental change, to integrate multispecies perspectives into global governance, and to involve all life on Earth in collective decision-making about planetary futures.Keats contends that human civilization has overwhelmed the natural self-organization of the biosphere. The effort to restore planetary self-awareness depends on everyone. By introducing Keats’ collaborative work with Colby College and beyond, this conversation will above all be an invitation to participate. Learn more about Jonathon Keats.


Center for Arts & Humanities

Center for the Arts and Humanities

The Environmental Humanities Initiative is housed in the Center for the Arts and Humanities, which runs its day-to-day activities and organizes event logistics.

Summer Institute Organizing Committee

Summer Institute Organizing Committee

Working closely with Center staff and the Center Director, SIEH co-organizers run all aspects of our annual Summer Institute in the Environmental Humanities. The 2023 organizing committee is: Kerill O’Neill, Keith Peterson, Dyani Taff, James Taylor, and Chris Walker.

EH Faculty

A wide range of scholars who study topics as varied as aquatic ecology, the lives of agricultural producers in globalizing Asia, natural disasters in antiquity and beyond, the faculty affiliated in the Environmental Humanities make up a vibrant and engaged interdisciplinary community at Colby.

History of EH at Colby

In 2017, Colby College received a four-year grant of $800,000 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to develop a campus-wide interdisciplinary initiative, Environmental Humanities: Interdisciplinary Research, Teaching, and Laboratory Learning.

The initiative is the culmination of many years of environmental humanities programming by the Center for the Arts and Humanities, the Environmental Studies department, the Colby College Museum of Art, and other departments across campus, which have been building interest and desire among faculty and students to address issues of global significance and forge a stronger link between the college’s traditional strengths: environmental science and the humanities.