Into the Fray: A Call for Policy-engaged and Actionable Environmental Humanities


  • Steven Hartman Mälardalen University



Environmental humanities, Sustainable Development Goals, science-policy interface, knowledge assessment, global environment change


      As European countries strive to meet their targets in support of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted by UN member states in 2015, the importance of integrating all knowledge communities in coordinated responses to sustainability challenges becomes an increasing priority. The creativity and depth of knowledge within philosophical, cultural, aesthetic and historical disciplines of the humanities has been underutilized in coordinated international assessment initiatives that aim to inform policy and facilitate solutions of sustainability governance. The Environmental Humanities (EH) is a field of growing significance internationally. While it can no longer be called an emerging field, EH still holds only the promise of bringing knowledge of social and cultural systems to coordinated international efforts to address the human dimensions of global environmental change. The significant knowledge and expertise on the human dimensions of environmental change available within the EH field should be regarded as an indispensable resource to policymakers and to those on the ground who work to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. This essay makes a case for actionable, policy-engaged environmental humanities, an ambition that should certainly extend to the domain of the humanities more generally.


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Author Biography

Steven Hartman, Mälardalen University

Steven Hartman is Guest Professor of English at Mälardalen University, Sweden. He leads the Humanities for the Environment (HfE) Circumpolar Observatory group anchored at the Stefansson Arctic Institute, Iceland. For 12 years he led the Nordic Network for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies (NIES). His current work addresses environmental memory in literature, integration of the humanities in global change research, and collaboration among artists, academics and civil society in mobilizing public action on climate change. He leads the sustainability education and engagement project Bifrost and co-leads (with Dr Astrid Ogilvie) the transdisciplinary research project Reflections of Change: The Natural World in Literary and Historical Sources from Iceland ca. AD 800 to 1800 (ICECHANGE).






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