Oslo School of Environmental Humanities: Annual Review 2020
In 2020, OSEH continued its work to strengthen interdisciplinary research, teaching and discussions on climate change and the environment. Due to Covid-19, OSEH had to adapt to a "new normal" and postponed some of its planned activity while moving other activities to the virtual space.
In 2020, OSEH has continued to host a series of events in line with our aims and visions. Moving our events to the virtual realm in pandemic times has opened up our conversations to participants from outside the University of Oslo. Over the year, OSEH has witnessed an increase in external participants "Zooming in" from all over the world. It was great to connect to a growing local and international environmental humanities community.
The weekly Environmental Lunchtime Discussions (ELD) has become a highly popular event, and the change to the digital format has worked very well. Although number of participants vary according to topic, we have had more than 80 participants attending some weeks. If possible, OSEH would like to go back to arranging physical events in 2021 as the original format of the Lunchtime Discussion created a regular and informal meeting-space for UiO-based participants. However, OSEH wants to enable participation from our international community also in the future and thus we plan to develop the Lunchtime Discussion into a hybrid format to accommodate both physical and digital presence. A hybrid format will also allow OSEH to continue inviting relevant guest speakers regardless of location. In 2020, we arranged a total of 23 Lunchtime Discussions (four physical and 19 webinars).
Another exciting transdisciplinary event series that was continued in 2020 was the Environmental Humanities Lectures (EHL). We hosted a total of five EHLs in 2020, featuring new research by leading international scholars in the field: Eben Kirksey, Kristina Lyons, Thom Van Dooren, Thomas Hylland Eriksen and Erich Hörl.
OSEH also hosted a vibrant environmental humanities Reading Group, organised by Doctoral Research Fellow Laura Op De Beke. The group met every month to catch up on and discuss cutting-edge topics and perspectives in the field – from ecocriticism to environmental history, animal studies, green media studies, environmental ethics and more. The reading group aims to be a platform for exploration, collaboration, and recreation. All are welcome.
The number of physical events in 2020 was minimal, but in September OSEH and the Anthropopogenic Soils Collaboratory hosted a socially distanced Forest Excursion to the Oslo Marka with mycologist Dabao Sun Lu, Doctoral Research Fellow at UiO’s Department of Biosciences and member of the Oslo Mycology Group. The excursion was a longed-for opportunity to meet colleagues in person outdoors within a safe distance, and also a great learning experience about the hidden world of fungi and their below-ground mycelia.
OSEH continues to support Collaboratories and sent out two calls for new applications in March and October 2020. All applications were assessed by a committee consisting of the Heads of Research at the three participating departments IFIKK, IAKH and IKOS, in collaboration with members of the OSEH Working Group. Three collaboratories were granted support:
- Critical Petroaesthetics, led by Sissel Furuseth (ILN)
- Worlds of Meaning in Conservation, led by Sara Asu Schroer and Thom van Dooren (IKOS)
- Monsters of the Anthropocene, led by Rebecca Scherr (ILOS)
To further strengthen research on environmental humanities, OSEH welcomed philosopher Thom van Dooren, University of Sydney, and archeologist Felix Riede, Aarhus University, as Professor IIs. Furthermore, anthropologist Sara Asu Schroer was granted a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship for the project Living with Vultures in the Sixth Extinction: An Ethnographic Study of Avian Conservation in Changing European Landscapes (LiVE), with Ursula Münster as mentor.
We are also excited that three of our Working Group members were granted external funding for their projects in 2020:
- Dominik Collet: Climate Cultures. Socionatural Entaglements in Little Ice Age Norway (1500-1800) (NFR Forskerprosjekt)
- Mette Halskov Hansen: Transcendence and Sustainability: Asian Visions with Global Promise (NFR)
- Alejandra Mancilla: Dynamic Territory: A Normative Framework for Territory in the Post-Holocene (ERC Starting Grant)
In 2020, OSEH established an interdisciplinary Honours Certificate in Environmental Humanities and Sciences (EHS), a Master's supplement of 20 credits. EHS is the first of its kind in Norway and aims to meet current future-oriented needs of ecology and society, and the environmental engagement among students. EHS will run in parallel with the participating students' main Master's programme and offers a unique opportunity to develop interdisciplinary competence in environmental and climate change studies. The teaching will be creative and experimental, including place-based teaching on environmental challenges, fieldwork, excursions, projects, and lectures with some of UiO's leading researchers on the climate crisis.
EHS has 25 places and is open to students from all fields of study starting a Master's degree programme at UiO from autumn 2020. In the first round of admission, we received a total of 87 applications from students connected to 33 different study programmes at 7 of the 8 faculties at UiO! The large amount of applications in combination with the students' enthusiastic motivation letters gives us an indication that UiO's students value spaces of environmental learning and the opportunity to deepen their knowledge of a critical field of environmental study.
OSEH is excited to start teaching in February 2021 and hopes EHS will play a central role in strengthening interdisciplinary teaching on climate change and the environment at the University of Oslo.
Lastly, OSEH is happy to announce that we will offer a new interdisciplinary lecture series where leading scholars at UiO ask how the so-called "Anthropocene" has transformed their discipline and work. Thanks to all our colleagues at UiO for enthusiastically agreeing to participate! In addition, we will host a seminar series on "New Environmental Archaeologies" in 2021. Both series of events will be virtual and open to the public. For more information on the two series, please click the links below: