Re-storying the landscape: The humanities and higher education for sustainable development


  • Nathan Hensley Bowling Green State University, United States


In the midst of the planetary crisis represented by the Anthropocene – the geological epoch in which human activity has become the dominant influence on the environment – the humanities can advance the sustainability movement by emphasizing the study of human experience. As we face sustainability challenges such as climate change and biodiversity loss, we encounter questions such as: what kind of education is of most value and how do we engage the environmental humanities as a mode of inquiry to better understand the crucial relationships between humans, place, and sustainability? Addressing these questions requires non-conventional modes of inquiry. Studying the stories of the landscapes that we inhabit is a non-conventional mode of inquiry that nurtures a sense of place. These stories include how the land was shaped by both natural and human forces. Stories of place and the history of how humans have altered it provide crucial insight into the human-Earth relationship. The study of place cultivates interest in infusing lived and felt human experience into the curriculum and pedagogy. Infusing human experience into higher education pedagogy encourages the linking of the sciences with the humanities. These ideas were implemented in a case study in which a swamp located in northwestern Ohio was used to contextualize sustainability education at Bowling Green State University. Such an education-oriented response to the sustainability crisis allows us to formulate new modes of inquiry, to better collaborate across disciplines, and to embrace uncertainty.

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Hensley, N. (2020). Re-storying the landscape: The humanities and higher education for sustainable development. Högre utbildning, 10(1), 25–42.






higher education for sustainable development, environmental humanities, sustainability, curriculum studies, curriculum theory, anthropocene