Environmental Humanities Initiative
The Environmental Humanities (EH) is a wide field of study that engages with central
and pressing environmental and human dilemmas as well as with issues of equity and
social justice in a time of rapid change. Humanities scholars from different disciplines
are at the forefront of the response to climate change and sustainability efforts
acknowledging the link between environmental degradation and social inequality. They
also strive to find points of contact between the nature-culture separation that underlies
traditional conceptions of scientific and humanistic disciplines. Environmental Humanities
scholarship has emerged in several institutions of higher learning bringing together scholars, not specifically trained in the natural sciences, but committed to environmental thinking and practice within and beyond the academy.
The Environmental Humanities Initiative (EHI) was founded with the aim of acknowledging the contribution of the Humanities to the mitigation of the current environmental crisis within a transnational and transdisciplinary perspective. Given food’s centrality to culture, history, and the social sciences, the critical study of food and the need to decolonize food are an integral part of the initiative together with issues related to environmental and food justice, agroecology, extractivism, waste, and the visual communication of just sustainability.
EHI director is Patrizia La Trecchia. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and is Associate Professor of Italian in the Department of World Languages. With a background in cultural studies and film studies, she has maintained a transdisciplinary research agenda blending food studies with political ecologies and environmental humanities. Dr. La Trecchia authored two textbooks and the monograph Uno sguardo a Sud. Vent’anni di movimenti, storie, conflitti e trasformazioni nella città di Napoli (2013) that was the first study to analyze the city of Naples in a postcolonial and transnational perspective pioneering new lines of investigations on the city of Naples and the so-called Southern Question that provided a paradigm to look at all the Souths of the world for comparative analyses.
She is completing one monograph on the politics of food justice (under contract with Routledge) and another monograph on the colonial divide between the Global North and the Global South (under contract with Palgrave). Her research, teaching, and activism aim to bridge the rapidly growing transdisciplinary field of the environmental humanities with political ecologies of food justice. This approach connects food to its political and ecological implications acknowledging the colonial dynamics that reproduce practices of agro-extractivism and injustice within the food system.
The first course in the Environmental Humanities at the University of South Florida, ITA 4930 Environmental Humanities, is offered every fall semester. The course uniquely blends food politics and environmental humanities shedding a light on broader structural inequalities through the lens of food justice.
In the news
New Environmental Humanities initiative at the University of Soth Florida - College of Arts and Sciences, The Hub, May 2, 2022