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What is Environmental Humanities?

We are in the midst of a global environmental crisis of unprecedented scale. Scientists and academics from various disciplines have been researching our current environmental problems and coming up with solutions for decades, and yet little seems to get done. Why is this? This is a complicated question, but an important part of the answer is that environmental research often doesn’t get effectively “translated” into understandable, moving messages for the wider public. We need better environmental communicators, people capable of turning important research into relatable, inspirational content that will lead to real change in the real world.


The UC Merced Environmental Humanities major and minor lay the foundation for becoming an environmental communicator. The “toolkit” you’ll develop in this program—including storytelling, creativity, critical thinking, and audience sensitivity —are applicable to producing inspirational engaging content for our society’s most pressing environmental and social justice issues. These skills are not only necessary for creating a better world but are also rare and valuable skills that employers today are looking for.


This program, centered on the study and analysis of literary, artistic, and creative works about environmental topics drawn from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds, has a strong base in literature—where the term “literature” is taken to mean any cultural production that can be “read”—while also preparing students to read and understand environmental research from a wide variety of fields and to produce creative environmental works of their own. Special attention is paid to works that center indigenous ways of knowing, Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), black ecology, BIPOC perspectives, and post-colonial and decolonizing frameworks.


The Environmental Humanities program responds to an urgent need to create clear and inspiring environmental communicators. The major and minor equip students to be science writers, non-for-profit leaders, public relations and communications staff for environmental agencies, environmental lawyers, political advisors and politicians, interpretive rangers, environmental consultants and business workers, novelists, screenwriters, and songwriters who tell ecological stories. Graduates of this urgent and career-oriented program will be professionals who understand environmental science and environmental injustice and can tell compelling stories about the research and data that urges action.


Learn more and be in touch on our Instagram account: @ucmenvirohums