The Environmental Humanities Initiative supports two student research fellows each summer to work with faculty engaged in significant laboratory style or digitally-focused environmental humanities research projects. Students have the opportunity to develop new research and creative and presentation capacities in close collaboration with their faculty mentors. Faculty-student teams are selected by application.
2019 Summer Research Fellows
Emma Goldberg-Courtney and Lena Martin both worked with Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Environmental Humanities Christopher Walker on a project analyzing trends of climate change in environmental literature. The work involved reading several novels and entering relevant passages into a data base for further analyzation using a software that worked with categories such as emotional response to climate change, sea level rise, energy/resources etc. The goal of the project is to examine how climate fiction can have an impact on individuals’ perception of climate change and is still ongoing.
2018 Summer Research Fellows
Beryl Zhou worked with Ellerton M. and Edith K. Jette Professor of Art Ankeney Weitz on Natural History and Visual Culture in China, 10th- 14th Centuries. This research project considers the intersections between natural science and visual culture in traditional Chinese culture, looking initially at Song dynasty (960-1276) and Yuan dynasty (1276-1368) paintings in the genre referred to as “bird-and-flower.” Surviving paintings often bear generic titles like Birds and Bamboo; however, the actual avian and botanical images are so carefully rendered that we can name most of the species by using modern field guides. Beryl assisted Professor Weitz in collecting and cataloguing textual materials about birds and plants from the Yuan dynasty and earlier, as well as collecting digital images of paintings from the Painting Catalogue of the Xuanhe Reign, early 12 th c. and photographs of the bird and plant species depicted in them.
Chris Coughlan worked with Environmental Humanities Postdoctoral Fellow Chris Walker to design, create, and make public the first database of imagined climate futures. The Climate Futures Database is a collaborative, interdisciplinary project in which students collate, analyze, and represent the myriad contemporary narratives that imagine the future of human societies as they adapt to climate change. These novels and films, increasingly known as “Climate Fiction” or “Cli-fi,” complement climate science by modeling individual and collective experiences of climate change as humans respond to sea level rise, desertification, shifting animal migration patterns, biodiversity loss, resource scarcity, and the climate refugee crisis. Using research methods from the Environmental and Digital Humanities, especially “distant reading” to identify patterns in large sets of narratives, students assess which narrative features of climate fiction are most likely to inspire innovation and hope.