Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ENHANCE (Environmental Humanities for a Concerned Europe)
Reporting period: 2017-03-01 to 2019-02-28
The research training has concentrated on three major areas––natural disasters and cultures of risk, history of science and technology, and environmental ethics––and has addressed a series of core interlocking issues: wilderness and conservation; flooding and drought; climate change and risk; production of diverse kinds of waste, environmental justice, and environmental health. In addressing these and other issues, the program has set out to contribute to key European environmental policies including the Climate Change Programme, the European Sustainable Development Strategy, the Water Framework Directive, and Natura 2000, with research-related policy documents, co-written within each work package, being one of the outputs expected of ENHANCE ESRs.
The development of the ITN as a collective was further enhanced during the first stage by designing a joint website, henceforth actively used by the ESRs; by offering a range of host-institution-led training activities: customized in-house training events, research colloquia, reading groups, seminar series; and by creating a further series of cross-institutional opportunities explicitly designed to bring ESRs together outside of their host institutions. This included the program’s inaugural conference, ‘The Future of Wild Europe’, which took place in Leeds from September 12–14, 2016. This three-day interdisciplinary conference, attracting more than 90 delegates from Europe and beyond, was designed to gauge the meaning, place, and value of ‘the wild’ within the Europe of today and the future.
An October 2017 five-day summer school on Public Environmental Humanities in Stockholm was organized by the Stockholm-based ESRs with solid support from other ENHANCE team members at KTH. Highlights of the Summer School included lively public talks by the American ecofeminist scholar Stacy Alaimo and the Pulitzer Prize-winning environmental journalist Dan Fagin; a guided tour of a local ethnographic museum; and a series of practical talks and workshops at the headquarters of Dagens Nyheter, one of Sweden’s widest circulating daily newspapers (and one for which, during the course of the program, several of the ESRs would come to write).
Further features of the 2017–18 period included a series of programme-related training events and workshops, several of them organized by the ESRs themselves, preparation for the culminating 2018 conference-cum-exhibition in Munich, and a raft of international activities, both group and individual, that spanned several different countries in Europe and elsewhere. Several of these activities went far beyond the traditional bounds of academia, and a defining characteristic of the ITN as it developed was the willingness of its young participants to engage with environmental issues in the public domain.
All 12 ESRs were highly active, continuing to produce collaborative as well as individual work and coming together as a group to organize and implement the main event of this particular period: a three-day conference-cum-exhibition co-hosted by LMU and the Deutsches Museum and running from October 17 to October 20 2018. The main aim of this thrilling open-to-the-public event, which also featured keynote addresses from world-leading environmental scholars Robert Bullard, Sheila Jasanoff, and Erik Snydegouw, was to showcase the work of the ESRs themselves, which was exhibited through a series of state-of-the-art posters and VR installations. The event also provided a further opportunity for the ITN to work together with some of its associated partners, with workshops on environmental management and the role of media in supporting sustainable development being delivered by colleagues from Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and Dagens Nyheter, respectively.
However, probably the main achievement of the ITN has been a collective one––the general progress made by these gifted young scholars in building communication and leadership skills that will serve them well in a wide variety of both academic and non-academic professional careers. Few if any of them prior to embarking on the ITN had much experience in communicating their ideas beyond a restricted academic audience; now all of them have. Few if any had experience, but now all of them have, in organizing academic workshops and conferences or in working together with non-academic institutions, from regional museums to national newspapers to international NGOs. As noted above, it was particularly pleasing to see the ESRs’ confidence build as they progressed through the program, and it was also gratifying to see them take increasing control of their own destinies, both individually and collectively.