What we do

The Centre for Environmental Humanities is a group of scholars at the University of Bristol working on environmental issues from humanities perspectives.

We recognise that entangled in the environmental issues that face our global community are matters of human behaviour, beliefs, values, and structures; and that critical approaches to human-environment interactions past, present and future, are essential.

The Centre supports and promotes Environmental Humanities work taking place at Bristol. We host public lectures and research seminars, help our members develop projects and partnerships, and have strong links with other groups, Centres and individuals working on EH issues around the world (see our Partners page).

We are a thriving research community with members from all career stages, from postgraduate to professor.

Environmental Humanities at Bristol

The Centre for Environmental Humanities is a forum for sharing and developing expertise on humanity’s interactions with nature through history, culture, and lived experience. We promote conversation and collaboration, highlighting opportunities for working together to address the environmental challenges of the twenty-first century.

Our vision of the environmental humanities is deeply informed by the city and region in which we live. Bristol was European Green Capital in 2015, and is a vibrant centre of natural history filmmaking. The city is home to a wide range of environmentally-focused organisations and community groups.

The University of Bristol has one of the largest groups of environmental humanities scholars in Europe, and our Centre – which has existed since 2017 – is one of the longest-standing such bodies in the UK. We are pleased to be a founding partner of the Environmental Humanities Research Hub at the School of Advanced Study, University of London.

Our activities include outreach work with local museums and galleries, academic research seminars and events, and funding collaborative research activities. Our members are drawn from the disciplines of History, English Literature, Modern Languages, Geography, Philosophy, and more. Many of us work with social and natural scientists, as well as heritage groups, non-governmental organisations and policymakers, to ask questions that go beyond disciplinary boundaries – and to provide answers.

 Our community has recently grown to include students on our MA in Environmental Humanities, which launched in 2023.

Our agenda

Our agenda is driven by members’ interests. In recent years, we have developed particular strengths in the following areas:

  • More-than-human approaches to conservation and extinction. How can we tell stories of species loss or conservation efforts in a way that takes a non-human perspective seriously? Our members explore the intertwining of ‘nature’ and ‘culture’ across different geographical and historical contexts. Our work in this area is linked to the Senses and Sensations research group.
  • Oceanic Studies / Blue Humanities. What do history and culture look like when viewed from the ocean? What have the oceans meant across different times and spaces? How might an engagement with the marine environment help us imagine alternative environmental futures?
  • Energy Humanities. We are living through an energy transition: discussions of ‘net zero’ and renewable energies are frequently at the forefront of the news agenda. Our members explore how changing energy sources have shaped history, thought and culture.

Many scientists and scholars have termed our current era the Anthropocene: the time in which humans have become the dominant force altering the Earth’s systems. All three of the above areas, and our other interests, share a sense of urgency in understanding humanity’s relationship to the environment at this time of increasingly extreme environmental change.

Follow us

Follow us on Twitter @UoBrisCEH.