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The Edinburgh Environmental Humanities Network presents researchers within the humanities with a forum in which to engage with each other’s work, to share insights, and develop collaborative partnerships.

Study Environmental Humanities at the University of Edinburgh

We are pleased to keep this current list of Environmental Humanities-related teaching available at the University of Edinburgh. If you are running a programme or course that you think should be added here, please email us at with details.

MSc Programmes

MSc Architecture, Landscape and Environment

Interdisciplinary in nature, the MSc Architecture, Landscape, and Environment will offer you a unique opportunity to explore the interconnected nature of site-based practices with environmental concerns. Supporting students across architecture, landscape studies, environmental arts and humanities, the programme has a generalist structure, which delivers individual student experiences through a flexible framework that focusses on student-led choice in the shaping of a learning experience. This will allow you to appreciate and develop a wide range of specialised and experimental approaches relevant to situated, spatial and site-related theory and practice.

MSc Environment, Culture and Society

What is nature? Why conserve nature? What are our ethical, aesthetic and spiritual relations to the environment? How do cultural and social practices shape the natural world? This exciting programme is designed for anyone interested in exploring these questions and gaining knowledge of contemporary theoretical and conceptual debates concerning relationships between environment, nature, culture and society.

Individual Courses (Postgraduate)

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Semester One

ARCH11281 Thinking with Fire

In current discourse, Fire has become a powerful metaphor for understanding climate change. Activists assert that “Our House is on Fire”, while historians suggest we think of our current geological epoch as a “Pyrocene”. Fire has long been recognised as both a constructive and destructive agent, key to the emergence of human civilisation but also a risk to it. Nonetheless, the importance of this element for both urban safety and planetary health have perhaps never been greater. This course studies the way fire has shaped our built and natural environments, but also the way this element offers explanatory metaphors for environmental change. It invites students from architecture, landscape architecture, engineering, and related disciplines to reflect on the way fire has, and might, shape thinking in their own field.

ARCH11246 Topics in Environmental Humanities

The Environmental Humanities is an exciting area of research that argues for the importance of arts and humanities scholars engaging with environmental debates. In particularly it explores what kinds of contributions the arts and humanities can make to efforts to respond to key environmental issues. A good introduction to the goals of this research area can be found in the editorial article for the first issue of the Environmental Humanities journal. In it, Deborah Bird Rose and her colleagues suggest that the non-human world has often been excluded from study in the humanities. However they argue that the environmental humanities are important in two ways. First because they can bring more complex accounts of meaning, value, ethics and politics to our understandings of environmental problems. And second because many of the concepts that have been fundamental to Western culture have been developed on the basis that humans are fundamentally separate from nature. As a result the environmental humanities also challenge these fundamental concepts and take better account of the ways that humans are always entangled in more-than-human worlds. The aim of our course is to explore these two aspects of the environmental humanities by developing complex accounts of environmental problems and challenging the fundamental anthropocentrism of much of humanities thinking. Each year we will do this through a focus on a topic that is at the forefront of the area.

PGGE11114 Values and the Environment

This course examines issues related to two important modes of human valuing of nature, the ethical and the aesthetic. The course covers key concepts and theories in environmental ethics including (normally): anthropocentrism and nonanthropocentrism; animal ethics; Leopold’s land ethic; deep ecology; urban environmental ethics; and climate ethics. Aesthetic engagement with wild nature and cultural landscapes is explored, especially in relation to the role played by scientific knowledge in valuing environments. Students will also consider conflicts between aesthetic, ethical and other values as they arise in various environmental issues, such as ecological restoration, climate change, and geoengineering.

Semester Two

ARCH11264 Time & Environment

The Time and Environment course provides an introduction to the emerging field of critical time studies and its contributions to environmental humanities. Complementing work that highlights the politics of place and space, we focus on the complex role of time in how environmental issues occur, are understood and proposals to address them. In contrast to time as a neutral background we explore how time enters into and operates across
contested environmental, social, cultural and political terrains. This course provides you with the tools to critically analyse the role of time in a context of climate breakdown, biodiversity loss, and resource depletion, while also developing ways of intervening into, and perhaps even changing, time.

PGSP11416 Anthropology and Environment

Why do human cultures engage differently with their natural environments and how do they understand processes of environmental sustainability and climate change? This course examines anthropological approaches to diverse human understandings of and interactions with their changing environments, and it brings an anthropological approach to understanding the socio-cultural, socio-political, and socio-economic implications of environmental challenges and related development, conservation, and human rights issues.

PGSP11299 Global Environmental Politics

This course examines the key actors and political dynamics shaping global environmental politics. Environmental challenges are profoundly political and involve issues of power, sovereignty, justice and political action. The global dimension of environmental issues pose distinctive and powerful challenges. Who are the key actors shaping global environmental politics? What are the main challenges and why do they take the form they do? What makes agreement so difficult to achieve? In this course students will draw on scholarship from environmental politics and international relations to help understand the distinctive challenges and dynamics of global environmental politics.

Individual Courses (Undergraduate)

Semester One

ARCH10047 Thinking with Fire

See description above.

Semester Two

SCAN10066 Anthropology and Environment

See description above.


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