Research MA Specialisation

Within the Humanities Research Master at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, students can choose to specialize in the Environmental Humanities.

Students who choose this theme are encouraged to connect questions, issues and methodologies to probe pressing environmental concerns from the basis of their disciplinary track. In the second semester of your first year, you begin your specialisation with a core course in the Environmental Humanities.

I chose to study at VU Amsterdam because I wanted a degree in this particular specialisation. VU is the first place in the Netherlands to have its own Environmental Humanities Center, and it has a really active programme with professors from multiple disciplines who are passionate about the field. In my first semester, I went on a field trip to a nuclear waste site and attended a fantastic workshop on water and food infrastructures. I’m really pleased that the Environmental Humanities field is growing, backed by committed students and staff at VU, plus really good teaching.

Sadie Hale, first-year RMA student

Building on the knowledge of the field’s key concepts, debates and methodologies you acquired in that course, you specialize further in the environmental humanities in courses and tutorials, combining your disciplinary training and knowledge with the interdisciplinary perspective of your specialisation.

The Environmental Humanities specialisation thus teaches you not only to apply your disciplinary methodologies and perspectives to environmental issues, but also to make creative connections to other humanities disciplines. Moreover, it trains a generation of students aware of the value of the humanities in exploring pressing environmental concerns.

Joëlle Koorneef, 2nd-year student

In my first year I took the introductory course to Environmental Humanities and I have been going to EHC events ever since! The Vrije Universiteit is one of the leading Dutch institutions that offer an environmental humanities approach, and it has really enriched my experience of the RMA.

In March, I started working as student-assistant for the Environmental Humanities Center and in this position I have helped to organize and promote the Workshop Transitions in Water-/Energy-/Food-Infrastructures in November 2019.
Working at EHC is a great part-time activity for me because it connects my academic interests with civic and environmental engagement!

This year, I will be writing an environmental humanities thesis, and I hope to bring the knowledge I gained in this specialization to my next steps in my career and life.

Relations between humans and their environment have long been central to various disciplinary courses and research projects within the Faculty of Humanities at our university, especially in the departments of History, Art and Culture, and Literature. The History department, for example, is a key institute in Dutch environmental humanities: it published a seminal survey on the environmental history of the Netherlands (Groene geschiedenis van Nederland, 1993) and hosted the first global conference of the European Society for Environmental History in 2008. Environmental Humanities brings these disciplinary interests into conversation with each other to create new connections both within and outside the humanities.

Would you like to know more about the possibility to study the Environmental Humanities, please see the programme page on the Vrije Universiteit website.

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