Bristol, United Kingdom

Environmental Humanities

when 25 June 2023 - 15 July 2023
language English
duration 3 weeks
credits 10 EC
fee GBP 3295

Bristol – gateway to the Southwest of England, built on the river Avon and close to the rolling Mendip hills to its south, the River Severn to the west and the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to the north – is a wild place.

Nature is present not only just beyond the boundaries of the city itself, but also within the urban fabric. Bristol holds nature reserves, parklands, underground rivers, a towering gorge and thriving night-time ecologies. Foxes stalk the streets, and peregrine falcons perch on tower blocks. These diverse natures make Bristol the ideal case study through which to examine the global realities of relationships between people and the rest of the natural world in a time of frightening environmental crisis.

Approaches drawn from across the humanities – from history to literature and beyond – are vital tools for us as individuals, communities, and societies as we reshape our world. How can the environmental humanities confront the dangerous realities of environmental change, and how can they help us generate new ways of building hopefulness/tools in the face of such a challenge?

By the end of your studies, you will have gained an acute sense of nature’s place in the city of Bristol, the environmental challenges facing the world today, and the critical ways in which the environmental humanities can help us understand and develop new relationships between people and the wider natural world.

Course leader

Dr Andy Flack (PhD, MA, BA) - Senior Lecturer in Modern Environmental History, Department of History

Target group

This programme is open to students from any academic discipline who want to understand past and present relationships between people and the natural world and why they matter now more than ever. Beyond that, this summer school is about empowerment: how can we be empowered to use humanities approaches not only to find new ways of communicating the realities of the damaged world that we have created, but also to build a sense of hope as we come to terms with the world that we now inhabit.

We want you to learn new skills and share your experiences and knowledge in interactive and reflective sessions that invite you to think about the diverse ways people, communities and societies understand and engage with nature, from the city to the planetary. We hope that you will be able to take your knowledge away with you, to deploy it in ways that might bring about positive change to your own life and those of the people around you.

Course aim

Across this three-week programme, students will work with world-leading environmental humanities scholars, community partners, and each other to explore important ways of thinking about and engaging with nature within and beyond the context of the city. Drawing on ideas at the heart of the environmental humanities, they will think about the importance of places and times, materials and objects, stories and narratives as they build an understanding of people’s relationships with the rest of the natural world.

Students’ studies will focus on the interface of city and nature, taking in subjects which may range from geology, wildlife, extinctions, nature on display, eco-literature, and film. In the process, they will engage both with foundational environmental humanities methodologies and conceptual approaches to the study of human-nature relationships, and with more specific case studies firmly rooted in the histories, cultures, and communities of Bristol.

Credits info

10 EC
Suggested as equivalent to 5 ECTS, or 3 US semester credits.

Fee info

GBP 3295: All tuition, teaching materials and a transcript
Lab consumables, site materials, or community workshop costs when applicable
Single-room accommodation in a University of Bristol residence
A half-board meal package (breakfast and dinner) throughout your stay
A team of supportive student leaders available 24/7
An exciting social programme
Arrivals and departures day transfers within Bristol from Bristol Airport, Bristol Bus and Coach Station, or Bristol Temple Meads train station.


We offer a £300 discount for early-bird applicants, International Partnership Universities and Study Abroad student mobility partners (email if you are unsure about your status).