Explore humanity’s evolving relationship to the environment through various artistic lenses. Perspectives like philosophy, religion, literature, and history allow us to view the environment creatively.

Why study Environmental Arts and Humanities at Sewanee?

This major examines environmental issues by integrating the diverse perspectives offered by anthropology, history, literature, philosophy, religion, and visual studies. While you’ll be encouraged to pursue your own specific interests in environmental arts and humanities, the major includes three interrelated components of common study.

First, it offers a grounding in environmental science and policy. Second, it examines how the areas of environmental arts and humanities inform and are informed by the perspectives of environmental science and policy. Finally, as the defining core of the major, you will explore how the arts and humanities enrich our understanding of humanity's complex, evolving relation to the world we inhabit and inform our responses to the many dimensions of environmental issues.

First Destinations: Environmental Arts & Humanities Majors

Sewanee graduates secure positions in a variety of fields. Some you would expect, others are a bit of a surprise. Sewanee prepares you for your profession and your passion. Below is a sampling of recent graduates' first jobs.

  • Research editorial staff in marketing & communications, Bonefish Tarpon Trust, Coral Gables, Florida.
  • Outdoor adventure program staff, City Kids Wilderness Project, Jackson, Wyoming.
  • Logistics analyst, Bellhops, Chattanooga, Tennessee.
  • Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, Episcopal Service Crops, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
  • Future Leaders Program associate for the Environment Health, Safety, and Sustainability Program, GlaxoSmithKline, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.
GRADUATE SCHOOL & PRE-PROFESSIONAL PROGRAMS: ENVIRONMENTAL ARTS & HUMANITIES MAJORS

Sewanee graduates enjoy extraordinary acceptance rates to top graduate and pre-professional programs–about 95 percent to law school and over 85 percent to medical school. Below is a sampling of where Sewanee grads continue their education.

  • M.S. in environmental science and management, Johns Hopkins University.
  • M.S. in environmental policy, University of Cambridge.

The Bird Philosotographer

Sewanee Professor Jim Peters brings a philosopher’s perspective to an extracurricular passion.

Birdwatching can be as simple as sitting on the porch with a cup of coffee to observe the nuthatches, finches, and cardinals that crowd around a backyard feeder for an early-morning breakfast and maybe to mutter a few choice epithets at the squirrels that somehow manage to defeat the “squirrel-proof” feeder design.

For Jim Peters, birds are much more: They are the creatures that led him to his life’s work, the study and teaching of “the love of wisdom”—the precise etymological definition of philosophy.

His pathway to teaching philosophy at Sewanee began as a young child, when his family moved to rural northern Illinois. There, he wandered the fields and woods, wondering about the mysteries of the natural world around him. When he was five years old, he found himself drawn deeply enough into the mystery of birds, their unknowability and their beauty, that he persuaded his father to take him to the first of what would be a lifetime of birder meetings.

Now, at age 60, Peters is still in love with birds—a man who’s been known on occasion to jump in a car, drive hundreds of miles upon hearing a report of a sighting of a rare bird, and then, after spending an hour or so watching and photographing the bird, turning around and returning to Sewanee in time to teach a class.

Read More

Pulitzer Prize finalist & Sewanee's own David Haskell connects with nature

In his new book, The Song of Trees: Stories from Natures Great Connectors, David Haskell repeatedly visits a dozen trees, exploring connections with people, microbes, fungi, and other plants and animals. In each place, he shows how human history, ecology, and well-being are intimately intertwined with the lives of trees. Read an excerpt below.

The forest presses its mouth to every creature and exhales. We draw the breath: hot; odorous; almost mammalian, seeming to flow directly from the forest's blood to our lungs. Animate, intimate, suffocating. At noon the mosses are in flight, but we humans are supine, curled in the fecund belly of life's modern zenith. We're near the center of the Yasuni Biosphere Reserve in western Ecuador. Around us grows sixteen thousand square kilometers of Amazonian forest in a national park, an ethnic reserve, and a buffer zone, connected across the Colombian and Peruvian borders to more forest that, seen through the lofty gaze of satellites, forms one of the largest green spots on the face of the Earth.

Rain. Every few hours, rain, speaking a language unique to this forest. Amazonian rain differs not just in the volume of what it has to tell—three and a half meters dropped every year, six times gray London's count—but in its vocabulary and syntax. Invisible spores and plant chemicals mist the air above the forest canopy. These aerosols are the seeds onto which water vapor coalesces, then swells. Every teaspoon of air here has a thousand or more of these particles, a haze ten times less dense than air away from the Amazon. Wherever people aggregate in significant numbers, we loose to the sky billions of particles from engines and chimneys. Like birds in a dust bath, the vigorous flapping of our industrial lives raises a fog. Each fleck of pollution, dusty mote of soil, or spore from a woodland is a potential raindrop. The Amazon forest is vast, and over much of its extent the air is mostly a product of the forest, not the activities of industrious birds. Winds sometimes bring pulses of dust from Africa or smog from a city, but mostly the Amazon speaks its own tongue. With fewer seeds and abundant water vapor, raindrops bloat to exceptional sizes. The rain falls in big syllables, phonemes unlike the clipped rain speech of most other landmasses.

We hear the rain not through silent falling water but in the many translations delivered by objects that the rain encounters. Like any language, especially one with so much to pour out and so many waiting interpreters, the sky's linguistic foundations are expressed in an exuberance of form: downpours turn tin roofs into sheets of screaming vibration; rain smatters onto the wings of hundreds of bats, each drop shattering, then falling into the river below the bats' skimming flight; heavy-misted clouds sag into treetops and dampen leaves without a drop falling, their touch producing the sound of an inked brush on a page.

The Song of Trees: Stories from Natures Great Connectors, published by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2017 by David George Haskell.

A Sampling of Courses

Environmental Arts & Humanities

Programs of Study & Related Programs

Requirements for the Major in Environmental Arts & Humanities

Requirements for the Minor in Archaeology | Website

Requirements for the Major in Environment & Sustainability | Website

Requirements for the Minor in Environmental Studies | Website

Requirements for the Major & Minor in ForestryWebsite

Requirements for the Major & Minor in GeologyWebsite

Requirements for the Major in Natural Resources & the Environment | Website

Requirements for the Minor in Religion & Environment Website

Meet some professors

Contact

James R. Peters
Professor of Philosophy, Coordinator of Environmental Arts and Humanities

jpeters@sewanee.edu

Carnegie Hall 201A, Ext. 1581

The Domain: An Immersive Experience