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Envrionmental and Health Humanities

This research program joins humanities approaches to human-nature relations, health and medicine, and emotions and senses.

Recognizing that history, society, and culture shape all of these domains, the interdisciplinary fields of Environmental Humanities, Medical and Health Humanities, and the History of Emotions and Senses bring new cutting-edge perspectives to urgent issues, from climate change and public health to individual wellbeing, helping to understand the past and the lessons for the future. 

In current research projects, we explore how Dutch culture related to water and coped with drought in the past, and work with museums and cultural institutions to shape new relations between humans and the natural world. In collaboration with heritage institutes, we consider how collecting and interpreting ‘forgotten’ diseases such as AIDS influences the management of emerging disease threats today. With the WHO we analyze how to adapt global policies to local circumstances. Through historical research we can explain how emotions are culturally diverse and analyse ‘new’ trends such as the democratization of society, affective economies, or emotional regimes (emocracies). With computer science, chemistry, heritage science and industry partners we develop cutting edge techniques in smell recognition and olfactory museology.  

Within CLUE+, this program aims to strengthen collaborations across faculty and university boundaries in new interdisciplinary research projects and research labs.

 Affiliated Research Centers:

  • Environmental Humanities Center
  • ACCESS: Amsterdam Centre for Emotions and Sensory Studies
  • PULSE Centre for Medical and Health Humanities

Research Coordinators: Kristine Steenbergh and Erin la Cour

Kristine Steenbergh (Environmental Humanities), k.steenbergh@vu.nl
Erin la Cour (Medical Humanities), e.l.lacour@vu.nl