I think that by taking as many environmental humanities courses as I can while I’m here, I will be able to report data in a way that people can better understand.- Baillie Stein ’20
Major: Environmental Science with a concentration in conservation biology
EH courses taken: Landscapes and Meaning, Introduction to Enviromental Humanities, and Climate Fiction
What led to your interest in EH?
It actually started with my Jan Plan freshman year when I took Landscapes and Meaning. At that point I didn’t even know I wanted to study Environmental Studies. Through only procrastination of my own, I found myself in the library on the first Sunday of Jan Plan from 8 a.m. to about 6 at night reading this big collection of environmental writings we had been assigned for the week. What struck me about that experience was that I had just spent almost twelve hours at once doing homework, and it didn’t feel like that at all because I felt so connected and inspired by all the things that I was exposed to then. That started me on my course of environmental studies.
Do you have plans to use EH in the future?
The issue with me is I would love to major in Environmental Humanities if it was offered, so I am figuring out what to do.
I am open thinking about different ways to try to blend environmental humanities with environmental science, because one of the things I took out of EH is that difficulty of scientists to report their data in a way that people can actually understand. I think that by taking as many environmental humanities courses as I can while I’m here, I will have a better understanding of how to report data in a way that people can understand.
Have you found that you have been able to use what you’ve learned in other work?
These classes have changed the way that I think a lot about our relationship with the world and what we know about the world and what science can tell us about the world and how that’s limited. Environmental Humanties can supplement that. Unfortunately I haven’t found a way to incorporate that kind of thinking into the writing I’m doing because it’s all lab reports but it’s always in the back of my mind in my environmental science classes, some of the things I learned from environmental humanities. Especially this idea of affirmative speculation that we learned about in Climate Fiction in the spring. The distinction recognizes that all the science and numerical data that we can take and learn about our world is very focused on how we think the world works already. Affirmative speculation opens the door for a lot of human error and recognizing our limitations. I don’t stop thinking about it after the discussion we had in class.
Are there any particular readings in EH that you liked the best?
There were two articles that we read in climate fiction. One was talking about how to recognize climate change as a sublime force in our lives, and the other was “Speculate This!,” which talked about affirmative speculation. Also “The Hungry Tide,” by Amitav Ghosh.