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SHAPE-ID Workshop on Environmental Humanities Takes Place at the University of Edinburgh

The second SHAPE-ID workshop, organised at the University of Edinburgh this week by our partners Professor Catherine Lyall and Dr Isabel Fletcher, was a great success. We spent two days with Environmental Humanities scholars, policy makers and funders, to explore what specific contributions the humanities can and do make to societal challenges research related to environmental concerns in the context of inter- and transdisciplinary research.

The workshop began with three fascinating scene-setting presentations from Environmental Humanities researchers who spoke about their experience working in inter- and transdisciplinary projects and teams.

Dr Anna Antonova (Rachel Carson Centre for Environment and Society, LMU Munich, Germany) spoke eloquently of her experiences as an interdisciplinary Early Career Researcher, highlighting the rewards and pleasure of working across disciplinary and sectoral boundaries while facing the challenge of negotiating the very traditional disciplinary structures of the University.

Professor Naomi Sykes (University of Exeter, UK) offered insights from a number of highly interdisciplinary projects centred around animals. Discussing examples of two projects focusing, respectively, on the chicken and the fallow deer, Professor Sykes showed how these were used as a lens to explore human-animal interactions and our relationships with the natural world from a variety of cultural and scientific perspectives, revealing how relationships with and to animals feeds directly into policy.

Professor Dolly Jørgensen (University of Stavanger, Norway) presented on her experience leading the In the Clouds project, an ArtScience workshop funded by the Research Council of Norway. The project brought together scholars in Art History, History of Science and Technology, Environmental History, Anthropology, Media Studies, Science and Technology Studies, Geography, Religious Studies and Computer Science, with photographers, filmmakers, painters, poets and performance artists, to collaborate with a museum on an exhibition on clouds, examined from this diversity of perspectives. Professor Jørgensen reminded us that excellent interdisciplinary research can occur within the broader Arts and Humanities community and does not necessarily require collaboration with STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine) disciplines.

After the presentations the group split into smaller working groups to engage in co-design activities around the development of research projects and funding calls. In the first exercise, each group worked to outline an inter- or transdisciplinary research project based on a short text on environmental challenges.

On the second morning of the workshop, participants worked in groups again, this time to critique and redesign existing funding calls dealing with environmental issues so that they might better include some of the priorities of Arts and Humanities researchers and encourage the participation of these researchers to address the challenges outlined.

Keep an eye out for our workshop blog post where we’ll share some preliminary insights (you can follow us on Twitter and Facebook) and do sign up for our mailing list at if you’d like to receive the SHAPE-ID newsletter.

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