The Greenhouse is a new Environmental Humanities Initiative at the University of Stavanger to support and grow a community of academics using history, literature, media, religion, philosophy, and art to understand how humans relate to environments. As an intellectual meeting place, we want to build connections between academics, museums, interest groups, and the public who are interested in environmental issues.
The Greenhouse represents both the environment as an object of study and the ways to cultivate a scholarly environment to study it.
As an object of humanities inquiry, the environment exists at the junction of nature, technology, and social structures. In the greenhouse, plants sprout and grow at this intersection. Plants are part of nature, potentially existing outside of human control and modification, yet using technologies of glass, fertilizer, buildings, breeding, genetic modification, and more, humans brings those plants into our social and cultural worlds. Through methods and techniques, humans select particular breeds of plants and create new natures inside the greenhouse that allow plants to live in places that they could not otherwise survive. The greenhouse generates new social connections with nature, from gardening clubs to homegrown cucumbers. The greenhouse is a space that encapsulates the Anthropocene as a time of deep and wide human modification of the Earth.
A greenhouse serves as a place of growth and creation of a harvest. This is an apt metaphor for what a scholarly community is called to do. Young researchers need to be tended like seedlings in order for them to grow and bear fruit. The produce of our collective labors can nourish the community. We want to support a broad group of academics and others generating knowledge and engagement with environmental issues from a humanistic perspective. The greenhouse as metaphor extends from our individual gardens to the planetary, reminding us that we are sitting in a greenhouse that risks overheating. We are called upon as scholars to be leaders in positive knowledge-based environmental change.
All environmental humanities are welcome within the Greenhouse initiative. The current members are particularly strong in the interplay of nature and technology in making environments, the role of the digital in creating new natures, the use of history in framing environmentalist action, and posthuman/more-than-human worlds.