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The Norwegian Researcher School in Environmental Humanities (NoRS-EH)

NoRS-EH is an interdisciplinary initiative that aims to reinforce and strengthen the contribution of Norwegian humanities scholars to environmental research and the great global challenges that we currently face.

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Facts
Partners

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) University of Agder University of Bergen University of Oslo University of Stavanger

Contact

Chair: Dolly Jørgensen

NoRS-EH is an interdisciplinary initiative that aims to reinforce and strengthen the contribution of Norwegian humanities scholars to environmental research and the great global challenges that we currently face. Members will get the chance to participate in seminars at NoRS-Eh partner institutions at the universities of Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger, Agder and at NTNU. The research school's courses supplement those offered as part of PhD-programmes by the partner institutions and have a goal of ensuring that doctoral candidates throughout Norway have the opportunity to attend specialist seminars and have access to a national network in environmental humanities.

NoRS-EH offers its members a tripartite programme consisting of an overview course in environmental science, an extensive course in themes related to the environmental humanities with international participation, and development of a larger community for researchers and students in the field. PhD candidates from Norwegian universities who work with themes and research methodologies related to environmental science are welcome
to apply to these courses.

Environmental humanities (EH) is a relatively new but rapidly expanding radically transdisciplinary endeavourthat complements environmental science and public policy by focusing on the cultural, historical, artistic and ethical dimensions of environmental issues. EH broadly investigates the human-environment relationship, critically understanding our current planetary predicament as a crisis of environmental imagination which demands a pivotal paradigm shift in our values, habits, routines and representations. EH is a vital component to developing sustainable relations with our planet and its multitudinous inhabitants.

The project is funded by the Research Council of Norway's national research school programme from 2019-2025.

News

Latest news from NoRS-EH and its members.

NoRS-EH member Samuel Klee, University of Oslo, has won the Everett E. Edwards Award for the best article submitted to Agricultural History by a graduate student. His article “Assembling ‘The Camp’: Agricultural Labor and the Wartime Carceral State in Chesterfield Missouri, 1937-1972” will appear in the 95.4 (Fall 2021) issue of Agricultural History. Congratulations to Samuel!

About the Research School

NoRS-EH is a collaboration between seven universities (five partner institutions and two connected universities) throughout Norway with the goal of providing world-leading doctoral education in the environmental humanities. We offer our PhD researchers a tripartite programme of courses in the theory and methodology of environmental humanities, a specialist course in and development of an academic community, and activities to support the students.

Members of NoRS-EH get the opportunity to participate in seminars at the NoRS-EH partner institutions; the Universities of Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger, Agder and at NTNU. The research school's courses supplement the partner institutions' own PhD programmes and have the goal of ensuring that doctoral candidates throughout Norway have access to specialised seminars and to a national network in the environmental humanities.

NoRS-EH offers its members a tripartite programme consisting of an overview course in environmental science, an extensive course in themes related to the environmental humanities with international participation, and development of a larger community for researchers and students in the field. PhD candidates from Norwegian universities who work with themes and research methodologies related to environmental science are welcome
to apply to these courses.

The project is financed by the Research Council of Norway's national research school programme from 2019-2025.

  • Dolly Jørgensen (UiS, leder)
  • Karen Lykke Syse (UiO SUM)
  • Ursula Münster (UiO OSEH)
  • Kyrre Kverndokk (UiB)
  • Julia Leyda (NTNU)
  • Reinhard Henning (UiA)

Ph.d-studentrepresentanter

  • Ysabel Muñoz Martínez (NTNU)
  • Aster Hoving (UiS)

External committee members

  • Marco Armiero (KTH Stockholm, Sweden)
  • Heather Anne Swanson (Aarhus University, Denmark)

Admission

Would you like to participate? Here you can find information on how to me a member of NoRS-EH.

PhD candidates who wish to apply must fulfil the following criteria:
• be a member of a PhD programme in Norway
• be working on research related to the environmental humanities
• be willing to collaborate in an education programme for researchers and to participate in joint activities
• admission is normally applied for at the start of the PhD programme

Decide whether your project fits the research school's profile. Discuss this with your supervisor(s). Your supervisor is expected to participate in the supervisor's seminar organised by NoRS-EH. Ensure that you meet the admissions criteria.
Send an email to the research school's coordinator Dolly Jørgensen with:

1. Project description

2. Application letter (max 500 words)
The application letter should contain your expectations about the research school's content, activities and why you think your research fits in with NoRS-EH. At the same time, explain your educational background and any professional experience you have. The application letter must also state that your supervisor agrees to you applying to the research school. You should also include in the application letter:

• your name and contact information
• date of admission to the PhD programme
• name of your PhD programme
• how your project is financed
• planned date of your Viva
• name of your supervisor
• how many credits you have completed
• are you full time or part time? (Give the percentage of your time you work on your dissertation)

  • the candidates choose for themselves which courses, subjects and symposiums they wish to participate in and which specific themes and content they wish to pursue
  • candidates are expected to participate actively on the research school's digital platform
  • travel and subsistence while participating in NoRS-EH courses are covered by the research school
  • your research will be presented on the research school's web page
  • access to a large network of national and international researches in the environmental humanities
  • be a part of a community of doctoral students

We have no set application deadlines - applications are evaluated as they come in. To receive expenses for participation in NoRS-Eh courses, your application must have been approved at least one month before the course.

Courses and subjects

The research school offers several courses for doctoral candidates. Here you can find information on future and previous courses.

The Norwegian Researcher School in Environmental Humanities (NoRS-EH) invites applicants to attend the Ph.D. course, “The Blue Humanities” coordinated by the Greenhouse group at the University of Stavanger. The course will take place in Stavanger, Norway, from 5-9 December 2022. Physical participation in Stavanger is required for the duration of the course.

The Blue Humanities is a multi-disciplinary approach that connects the stories of people and the oceans. It explores the meeting points of land and sea, art and science, and human and non-human nature. The field takes the oceans seriously as global crossing points, explores the ways they have shaped human imagination, and discusses the ways in which oceans (and the broader worlds of water) are central to conversations about the Anthropocene and climate change.

In this course, students will be introduced to the field through a series of lectures, readings, and seminars. The class will also make use of Stavanger’s position as a coastal town with deep ties to the sea through excursions and site visits to local museums. Participants will also have the opportunity to analyze and present objects or texts from their own field/research through a blue humanities lens. The course will last for five days, and will include lectures about the Blue Humanities, expert-led discussions of important texts in the field, and opportunities for students to explore how questions and ideas from the Blue Humanities might be applied to their own research.

To open the course and help us frame and understand the discipline, we will be joined by Steve Mentz, Professor of English at St. John’s University in New York. Mentz is the author of Shipwreck Modernity: Ecologies of Globalization (2019) and Ocean (2020). For the second half of the course, Aike Peter Rots, Associate Professor of Japan Studies at the University of Oslo will participate. Rots studies modern Asian religion and culture, and is the leader of an ERC project, Whales of Power: Mammals, Devotional Practices, and Environmental Change in Maritime East Asia.

The course also corresponds with the visits to Stavanger of two Green Transitions Fellows with expertise in the blue humanities, who will participate in aspects of the course. Susanne Ferwerda is lecturer in Comparative Literature at Utrecht University with research expertise in colonial oceans. Nancy Langston, Distinguished Professor of Environmental History at Michigan has written several books engaging with American waters and the Great Lakes, and is pursuing a project on ice—a reminder that the “blue” humanities can encompass many forms of water. The course is coordinated by UiS faculty members Ellen Arnold and Marie-Theres Fojuth. Arnold is author of the forthcoming Medieval Riverscapes and co-editor of the journal Water History. Fojuth is the author of Herrschaft über Land und Schnee. She is Associate Editor of the journal Norsk museumstidskrift and has worked within the Museum Stavanger community.

Course details

The course is 5 ECTS, with a planned enrollment of ca. 20 students. Students will be required to attend all days of the course, participate in discussions and activities, and prepare a written essay of approximately 3000 words after the conclusion of the course.

There is no cost to participate in the course, but we do not provide transportation or lodging, etc., unless students are enrolled in NoRS-EH. NoRS-EH students will have their travel and accommodation covered.

Application

To apply, please send a completed application form along with a one paragraph summary of your project and a statement of interest (no more than 250 words) on why you are interested in attending this course. Send your application to ellen.arnold@uis.no no later than 30 September. Applicants will be notified if they have a spot by 7 October.

Application deadline: 30th September 2022

The Norwegian Researcher School in Environmental Humanities (NoRS-EH) invites applicants to attend the Ph.d. course "Approaches to Climate Change in Environmental Humanities," coordinated by the University of Bergen. The course will take place in Bergen.

Can the humanities contribute productively to the inter-disciplinary field of climate change research? Some of the humanistic contributions to this field focus on how climate change has been and is being conceptualized, narrated, and visually represented. Another crucial contribution studies how climate change and the related idea of the Anthropocene affect notions of time and historicity, while a third, growing field in the humanities focuses on the imaginaries of climate change futures, and questions about how climate change is visualized and exhibited across media.

The course will last for four days, followed by a day at the University Museum of Bergen. At the museum we will look at exhibits on climate change, environmental issues, and academic knowledge production and discuss the relationship between knowledge production, and public outreach.

Application

For further details of the course and the application process please click here.

This course was coordinated by Oslo School of Environmental Humanities (OSEH) in Oslo.

Our Researcher School, hosted by the Oslo School of Environmental Humanities, University of Oslo, explored connections between place and time through diverse perspectives gathered by the environmental humanities.

Together, we investigated how place-based learning techniques may help us engage with notions of space and time differently from, for instance, purely discourse-oriented types of analysis. What does a place-based approach to research reveal about how knowledge is constituted? How can we be more attentive to how nonhuman life forms make their worlds through different rhythms, co-ordinations and temporalities? How may we rethink connections between ‘data-collection’, ‘analysis’ and the act of ‘writing up’ our findings (conventionally portrayed as a linear process leading to research ‘outputs’)? And how may we encounter, conceptualise and engage with place, time, and temporality differently outside the ‘classroom’ by actively engaging in tasks and activities in the open?

This course was coordinated by Environmental Humanities Research Group at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim.

The course explored the centrality of storytelling and diverse narrative practices in the environmental humanities, not only as tools of communication that promote understanding of complex environmental processes and capture ecological imagination, but also as catalysts to emotion and pathways to civic engagement. Students examined how several fields within EH theorize and engage with narration, both broadly across the international field as well as more locally in the Nordic region, including collaborations with cultural institutions in Trondheim.

The Centre for Development and the Environment (SUM) at Universitetet i Agder organised this course in cooperation with NoRS-EH.

The objective of this course was to give the candidates hands-on experience with a variety of primary sources in environmental humanities to expand their environmental literacy and enrich their concept of sources and their approach to source-work in their PhD-thesis or as an environmental humanities scholar.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge

  • Advanced understanding of the concept of primary sources and hands on experience with variety of primary sources in environmental humanities
  • Advanced understanding of the concept of environmental literacy and also the ability to work with and reflect on the development of environmental literacy in their own source work and professional development.
  • Advanced understanding of the concept and impact of time and space in interpretation of sources and in development of environmental literacy. 

Skills

  • Acquired the ability to do discuss and analyse the different types of primary source material dealt with in the course and be better prepared to consider and expand the use of source material in their own research and professional work.
  • Discuss the impact of time and space in the work with and interpretation of primary sources.
  • Be able to reflect on their own professional development as researchers in environmental literacy terms and in particular in relation to their work with primary sources.
  • Carry out an advanced discussion of the specific source work in their thesis and of their own particular environmental literacy as a prerequisite for this work.

General competence 

  • Be able to identify and discuss the value of different aspects of environmental literacies within and beyond environmental humanities and reflect upon how these insights may be transformed into outreach or dissemination strategies.

This course was organised by The Centre for Development and the Environment (SUM) in cooperation with the Norwegian Researcher School in Environmental Humanities (NoRS-EH) and the Norwegian Political Ecology Network (POLLEN-Norway).

The objective of this interdisciplinary PhD course was to critically approach the relationship between food production and food consumption and pandemics in an environmental perspective. This involved addressing issues like the links between global food and fodder production and the transformation of rural areas.

In this course, students focused on how ecosystems and small-scale food production have changed to industrial and hyper-industrial scales; explore the aspirations of consumers in the West and in countries with emerging economies; address the ongoing changes in the global organization of labor, and focus on its environmental impacts.

The Covid-19 pandemic has made governments, health organizations and citizens in general painfully aware of the entanglement of changing patterns of food production and consumption and lethal pathogens. Problematizing evolving ideas regarding the relationship between food and pandemics, both communicable and non-communicable, can open new ways to understand global capitalism and its effects. Accordingly, pandemics are a highly relevant starting point to study the global political and economic systems related to the food industry. As food production, and particularly meat production, turns ever-more global, new relationships between humans, animals and, increasingly, pathogens evolve. The social, economic and environmental impact is high, and future sustainability depends on how these relationships are managed.

Against this backdrop the course addressed questions such as:

  • What are the relations between the global food system and pandemics?
  • How can perspectives from political ecology and environmental humanities contribute to new ways of thinking about non-humans in the relationship between food production and pandemic entanglements?
  • How have local and national environmental histories shaped and been shaped by industrial systems for food production (and meat in particular), and what are the consequences for animal and human health, welfare and wellbeing at large?
  • How are food production systems organized in terms of labor and how do workers in industrial food production cope with pandemic outbreaks and their aftermaths?

The Norwegian Researcher School in Environmental Humanities (NoRS-EH) organised a week-long PhD course entitled “Environmental Storytelling and Narrative,” held by Environmental Humanities Research Group, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).

This course explored the centrality of storytelling and diverse narrative practices in the environmental humanities, not only as tools of communication that promote understanding of complex environmental processes and capture ecological imagination, but also as catalysts to emotion and pathways to civic engagement. Students examined how several central areas of inquiry within EH research theorize and engage with narration, both broadly across the international field as well as more locally in the Nordic region (including collaborations with the cultural institutions in Trondheim).

During five days of seminars and workshops, students mastered practical and collaborative project work facilitated by experts in the field. Streams included attention to theories and methods appropriate to the study of postcolonialism, popular culture, music and sound studies, and intermediality in connection to environmental storytelling and narrative. In addition, this course included a practical hands-on component and a special focus on public dissemination and cooperation with community partners. Students developed an outward-facing public engagement output as their final project.

Organised by The Greenhouse, University of Stavanger and the Norwegian Researcher School in Environmental Humanities (NoRS-EH).

Where do the digital and nature meet?

Rather than consider these as opposing realms, this course sought to bring them together. How can students and scholars in the environmental humanities engage with digital natures? How can we embrace and use digital media to explore and present environment-specific research? Graduate training in environmental humanities has only to a small degree engaged with the many challenges of digital media to the field. This PhD course aimed to enable its participants to meet this challenge through a week-long exploration of key themes, methods, tools, and discussions in the emerging field of digital environmental humanities.

During five intense days, students combined practical and collaborative project work with workshops taught by experts in the field to explore the place of the digital in the environmental humanities. The participants produced a collective public-facing project that explored the course theme, and each wrote an individual 3000-word essay that reflected on the process of producing the public-facing project.

This course was organised by the University of Bergen.

This course was held digitally because of the corona situation. It discussed climate change from several perspectives within environmental humanities. These included narrative and linguistic approaches, where narratives and concepts are heuristic tools which help to make sense of reality, of the environment, and of the past, the present and the future. As such, narratives and concepts play an important role in structuring how people reason and talk about climate change, and in guiding decision making and action – or non-action. Temporality and long-term perspectives were another focus, including discussions on historicity and futurity, as well as historical and archaeological studies. The discussion here was of how multiple temporalities are entwined in various discourses on climate change. The course also addressed how measuring and calculation of global climate change depends on advanced computing and huge amounts of global scale data. Thus, a major challenge in communicating the severity of climate change to a larger audience is that it is not directly observable. The course discussed the challenges concerning exhibiting climate change given this problem in communicating it.

This course was organised by the Oslo School of Environmental Humanities.

In the Anthropocene, it becomes increasingly clear that environmental issues cannot be understood from the perspective of a single discipline. This research-oriented course was aimed at graduates from the humanities and social sciences who work on environmental topics and wished to expand their repertoire of theories, research skills, and creative methods. The course put special emphasis on creative and unconventional research methods and modes of representations, such as the use of film, photography, sound recordings, art installations, or exhibitions. It served as an introduction to theories and research methods in the interdisciplinary field of environmental humanities.

Publications

This section lists publications by NoRS-EH members.

NoRSH-EH member Laura Op de Beke, University of Oslo, has published “Pastoral Videogames: Industry, Entropy, Elegy,” Ecocene: Cappadocia Journal of Environmental Humanities2(2), (2021): 177–191. https://doi.org/10.46863/ecocene.51

Pastoral videogames are popular and numerous. While existing scholarship on pastoral videogames tends to emphasise their complicity in the misrepresentation of agricultural labour and ecological processes, this article explores a range of more ambiguous, critical pastoralisms in videogames, including the counter-pastoral, the complex pastoral and pastoral elegy. In particular, this article is interested in analysing the progressivist temporal paradigm prevalent in the genre, a paradigm that incorporates an industrious, capitalist ethos glorifying work, expansion, and wealth accumulation. Through brief analyses of the videogames Stardew Valley, Graveyard Keeper, The Stillness of the Wind and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, this paper thus concludes that the most critically interesting engagement with the pastoral genre in videogames rests in pastoral elegy, especially the dark ecological kind elaborated by Timothy Morton, which overturns the progressivist paradigm by dwelling melancholically in decline, death, and dissolution.

NoRSH-EH members Gitte Westergaard and Dolly Jørgensen, University of Stavanger, have published “Making Specimens Sacred: Putting the Bodies of Solitario Jorge and Cụ Rùa on Display,” in Animal Remains, ed. by Sarah Bezan and Robert McKay (2021): 68-86.

In this chapter, we show that animal remains of extinct species can be ascribed a sacred character. Using the notion of “sacred” as “set apart” per Émile Durkheim, we argue that the conjunction of preparation, placement, and cultural value of particular extinct specimens can make them into sacred objects. We examine the sacredness of two specimens on display: the last Pinta giant tortoise, Solitario Jorge, who died in 2012 and is now displayed at the Research Station at Santa Cruz Island as a Galápagos conservation icon; and the last giant Hoàn Kiếm softshell turtle, Cụ Rùa, similarly put on display after his death in 2016 at the Ngoc Son Temple in Hanoi, Vietnam. Drawing upon three bodies of literature—religious studies, museum studies, and extinction studies—we explain how these two animal bodies have taken on sacred characteristics. Whereas extinction studies is often concerned with what is absent, this article demonstrates that by maintaining extinct animals in a liminal condition—on the threshold—neither alive nor dead, the bodily remains of the last specimens obtain a sacred status and stand in for the complete loss of a species.

NoRSH-EH member Laura Op de Beke, University of Oslo, has published “Premediating climate change in videogames: Repetition, mastery, and failure,” Nordic Journal of Media Studies 3, no. 1 (2021): 184-199.

This article starts with the observation that growth-oriented, techno-futurist narratives are predominant in climate change videogames. It then accounts for the lack of variety by arguing that these videogames are privileged expressions of premediation. Premediation cultivates a multiplicity of future scenarios, while at the same time delimiting them to suit presentist concerns, evoking a sense of inevitability and predictability strengthened by repetition. The iterative, branching temporality at work in this logic is deeply ingrained in videogames, as the trope of mastery through repetition and its analysis requires attentive-ness to the affective dimensions of gameplay. If videogames are to engage with the climate crisis more productively, they must develop different temporalities in which the potentiality of the future is preserved. In this article, Op de Beke analyses the games Fate of the World and The Stillness of the Wind to demonstrate how videogames premediate climate change and how they can explore other temporalities latent in the present.

Marius Palz has published the article “A Sea Cow Goes to Court: Extinction and Animal Agency in a Struggle Against Militarism,” Relations: Beyond Anthropocentrism 8, no. 1-2 (2020). The article is available online at https://www.ledonline.it/index.php/Relations/article/view/2467/1419. His draft article was discussed as a work-in-progress in the NoRS-EH monthly meeting back in May 2020, so it is great to see it published now.

In this article, Palz examines a conflict in Japan’s southernmost prefecture, Okinawa, over the construction of a new military base for the United States Marine Corps within potential feeding grounds of the critically endangered Okinawa dugong. Because of its critical status close to regional extinction, the dugong was declared a Natural Monument of Japan in 1972, arguably putting it under protection of the United States National Historic Preservation Act in context of the base construction. Based on this assumption, and the dugong’s cultural significance for the people of Okinawa, the issue was brought to an American court, a rare case where an animal plays a central role in a lawsuit dealing with cultural property. Based on Eduardo Kohn’s anthropology beyond the human and his thoughts on life as a semiotic process the article explores the entanglements between dugongs and people. Palz argue sthat in this process dugongs play an active role. Through their interpretation of the generated indexical signs at the construction site and their resulting behaviour, these animals give humans the opportunity to convert their presence and absence into the sphere of symbolic human interaction.

Studenter

Lu Chen

PhD researcher at the University of Oslo

Matthew Dalziel

PhD researcher at The Oslo School of Architecture and Design

Runa Falck

PhD researcher at the University of Bergen

Malin Graesse

PhD researcher at the University of Oslo

Ingrid Hilmer

PhD researcher at the University of Stavanger

Aster Hoving

PhD researcher at the University of Stavanger

Berit Huntebrinker

PhD researcher at the University of Agder

Margit Ims

PhD researcher at the University of South-Eastern Norway

Samuel Klee

PhD researcher at the University of Oslo

Sofie Kjendlie Selvaag

PhD researcher at NINA Lillehammer

Endre Harvold Kvangraven

PhD researcher at the University of Stavanger

Sebastian Lundsteen Nielsen

PhD researcher at the University of Stavanger

Kim Kirsten Ménage

PhD researcher at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Hedda Susanne Molland

PhD researcher at the University of Bergen

Laura Op de Beke

PhD researcher at the University of Oslo

Marius Christoph Palz

PhD researcher at the University of Oslo

Mehdi Torkaman Momeni

PhD researcher at the University of Stavanger

Gitte Westergaard

PhD researcher at the University of Stavanger

Sonja Irene Åman

PhD researcher at the University of Oslo