Vilnius Declaration: the European Environmental Humanities Alliance

European Humanities for the Environment

Humans are the key factor in both creating and solving the challenges of global environmental change. The emerging field of the Environmental Humanities represents an under-utilized resource of knowledge, activity and practice that can and must be activated and integrated with the other sciences to guide a more humane transformation of environment and society.

Research outcomes will benefit

Complex problems require all relevant knowledge bases. The quality and usefulness of knowledge is enhanced as the informational basis of concrete issues increases and interpretative knowledge is added to social and natural sciences.

Knowledge of environment and society will be qualitatively enhanced

Humanities research interprets modes of human perception and experience, clarifies and critically assesses underlying assumptions in other sciences, harnesses social engagement, and shapes critical awareness via cultural analysis, public debate and creative expression in ways that will help European citizens negotiate the troubled present and uncertain future of our environmental legacies.

Society will gain from a more successful integration of scientific and human study

Integrated research on global environmental change from the full spectrum of the environmental humanities and social sciences meets the demands for innovative paradigms of knowledge production coming from major international initiatives such as Future Earth (amalgamating ICSU, ISSC, UNESCO, UNEP, UNU, WMO and the Belmont Form), thus helping to realize the goals of transformative, integrated science called for in key visioning reports such as the Transformative Cornerstones of Social Science Research for Global Change (ISSC, 2012).

Researchers at centers, institutions, and networks throughout Europe have already been active developing histories, theories, and interpretations relevant to many of these challenges (see reverse).

We assert that the Environmental Humanities must engage with the wider scientific community — as well as with educational institutions and other key sectors of society — to re-think what it truly means to be human when “Anthropos” (the human being) is coming increasingly to be understood and acknowledged as the defining component of a new geological era, the Anthropocene.

This declaration has been prepared for initial presentation in Vilnius at the “Horizons for Social Sciences and Humanities” conference organized by the Lithuanian EU Presidency at Mykolas Romeris University, September 23-24, 2013.

Coinciding with the Vilnius conference, the European Environmental Humanities Alliance has launched an interim website to report on developments occurring within the Alliance and to serve as a point of contact with potential European partners and relevant agencies during the forthcoming visioning process.


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