Humanities for the Environment Website Launches

David Phillips

David Phillips

Congratulations to David Phillips (Associate Professor, Interdisciplinary Humanities) and the WFU Humanities for the Environment (HfE) team on the public launch of the innovative and interactive website, Humanities for the Environment. A project “animated by questions about the role of the humanities in the Anthropocene… a time in which human activity is significantly shaping the geological future of the planet,” HfE is part recipient of a $1.2 million Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes (CHCI) multi-project grant funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, titled, “Integrating the Humanities Across National Boundaries.”

The new HfE webpage is built on an original and innovative digital platform dubbed “Chaco” for Chaco Canyon, “a large complex of unique North American public architecture and astronomical observatories built between the 9th and 13th centuries…”  “Chaco” evokes over 10,000 years of human history at diverse ancient sites and inspires those who study relationships between people, natural environments and cultural landscapes in the contemporary world.” Thus it is an apt name for a platform developed to foster collaboration among researchers in the humanities examining global environmental change.

The website was created to enable exciting new kinds of collaboration across HfE’s three research “observatories” in Australia, Europe, and North America, including the work of undergraduates and faculty at Wake Forest University. 

Lisa Blee, Thomas Frank, Lucas Johnston, and Ron Von Burg

Lisa Blee, Thomas Frank, Lucas Johnston, and Ron Von Burg

Together with their students, Phillips, Ron von Burg (Assistant Professor, Communication), Lisa Blee (Assistant Professor, History), Thomas Frank (University Professor, History and School of Divinity), and Luke Johnston (Assistant Professor, Religion) are researching — from various disciplinary perspectives in the humanities – the environmental history of the Piedmont Triad, how and why local communities have organized and responded to environmental concerns, and models for moving forward. With the creation of the Chaco platform, which was developed by Phillips, Digital Initiatives Librarian Chelcie Rowell, and IT Specialist Tyler Pruitt in collaboration with scholars at Arizona State University, our WFU students and faculty will now be able to interact directly with researchers throughout the world. The site is significant for its multiple functions: “As an environmental humanities platform it allows for flexible juxtaposition and arrangement of digital and multimedia content for deep analysis of human- environment relations. As a set of digital humanities tools it enables a powerful set of investigatory mechanisms for examining, analyzing, and interrelating project data from diverse places, cultures, and communities. As a platform for public humanities projects, it enables researchers and research teams to partner with communities and public entities, and to share the results of investigations broadly and accessibly.” 

Check out HfE and see what new modes of research and learning the digital humanities can make possible!