Seit 1850 ist hierzulande die Jahresdurchschnittstemperatur bereits um 1.8 Grad angestiegen (im Vergleich zu 0.85 Grad im globalen Mittel). Die Jahreszeiten verändern sich, mit schwerwiegende Folgen für Wasserhaushalt und Landschaftsbild. Gletscherschwund, häufige Steinschlag, Felsstürze, und eine sich verändernde Vegetation sind in Bergregionen bereits zur Realität geworden. Doch auch das Mittelland ist betroffen. Starkniederschläge, Hitzeperioden und Wasserknappheit sind Themen, mit denen sich die Bevölkerung künftig auseinandersetzen muss.read more
Recent hurricanes in the United States were not only physical events but also storms of information. Some may have hoped that they would help to changing how people and politicians think about climate change; probably they didn’t. At least not immediately. This is typical of many environmental problems. There is a vast amount of scientific data, but it remains difficult to form a consensus and see how action can spring from all the information. This is because information is often incomplete, difficult to understand, abstract or even contradictory. In recent years scientists have started to collaborate more intensively with humanities scholars and artists to develop new ways of synthesizing and visualizing scientific information in ways that are more tangible to the public. One such strategy is to tell stories. Storytelling engages people with an environmental issue through dialogue, for example the recent Tree Stories storytelling journey through Zürich organized by the group Environmental Humanities Switzerland in May 2017.read more
Although several hundreds of studies have been undertaken so far, no definitive answers have yet been found that convincingly explain the huge gap between the knowledge and awareness of environmental issues on the one hand and the radius of action on the other.
What are the reasons for this startling absence of answers? One reason might lie in the complexity of the subject. In order to get into the various aspects of the problem, one needs to exert oneself into various kinds of models: Political and economic models, psychological and ecophilosophical models, social marketing models to mention a few.read more
‘Environmental Humanities’ (EH, Umwelt-Geisteswissenschaften / Sciences humaines de l’environnement / Scienze umane dell’ambiente) is a new interdisciplinary research field that explores environmental issues through the methods and insights of the humanities. Historic, social, philosophical, and cultural insights offer fresh perspectives for addressing and understanding complex environmental problems. This rapidly growing research field aims to identify effective, sustainable, and equitable ways of living within the earth’s natural limits. Such areas as history, human geography, philosophy, ethics, literature and arts, ethnobotany, and law provide important venues for understanding environmental issues, but combining synergistic and novel insights of these fields in new ways is the promise of environmental humanities. Natural sciences are also integral to environmental humanities, though not as ways to define environmental problems but as partners for enriching their humanistic understanding.
“The enormous scope and complexity of today’s environmental problems require knowledge derived from the natural and social sciences as well as the humanities”Philippe Forêt
“The EH Working Group aims to join researchers from the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences from several Swiss universities working on both sides of the Röstigraben”Christoph Kueffer