We don’t live separately from the natural world, we’re part of it, we interact with it. Studying those interactions is crucial to understanding the world we live in.-Lauren Grant’19
Major:Spanish and Environmental Policy
EH courses taken: US. Environmental History, Introduction to Environmental Humanities, and Jesuits and the Origins of Environmental History.
How did you become interested in Environmental Humanities?
By choosing Environmental Policy, I was actually trying to get something closer to EH. I’m not a scientist, I am really interested in human/ environmental interactions. Because of that I gravitated toward Environmental Humanities classes.
After taking three Environmental Humanities classes in the Fall 2017 semester, I was going to pursue an independent major in EH, because I found it so rewarding, but it turned out I was too far along to do that. I kind of wish I had been younger so I could have done the Environmental Humanities major, [if it is established].
Have you been able to use what you learned in Environmental Humanities classes in any of your later work?
I definitely see it impacting me this year in classes and in the future. I think there is something really valuable about looking at the environment interdisciplinarily. I found it challenging at the same time as rewarding to get out of the mindset that you have to use science to think about the natural world to understand things and that’s the only valid lens through which to perceive things. I think it has built up my skills of problem solving and analyzing problems.
This summer at the job I interned with I was looking at supply chains and different problems along supply chains, so helping companies understand if there is forced labor, deforestation, pollution, things like that. My role was researching those problems and thinking about how we can use data to shed light on those problems. A lot of those are environmental but also human problems, so I thought back to a lot of the readings I had done in Into to Environmental Humanities: people’s stories about being impacted by supply chains from places like the US. I think being able to think from different perspectives is a great skill to learn. One of the things I did was to write a report so writing skills were huge. I was really glad to have had some experience writing in different ways through my Environmental Humanities classes.
A big part of the job was creatively interpreting the stuff that I was researching. I wrote a blog post on the difference between writing in a more robust way versus a creative really short concise way. A lot of different classes have benefited me in that way, but specifically thinking about the Environmental Humanities and reading different pieces in those classes gave me good exposure to the different ways people write about the environment.
I think shifting the focus off of what we consider to be nature and on to people who are very much impacted by environmental issues, and thinking of that before coming to this job was definitely a plus because we focused a lot on reaching out to people and listening to farmers and getting input. That’s what a lot of the companies that partnered with us wanted- to hear from people they were buying stuff from and understand their stories and things that are important to them. In a lot of smaller ways it relates.
I think that in my head at least, an Environmental Humanities major makes so much sense. I don’t think we are separate from these problems, so I think it would be very beneficial to students in the future. We don’t live separately from the natural world, we’re part of it, we interact with it. So studying those interactions I think is crucial to understanding the world we live in.