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Sustainability and the Humanities

14 April 2010


Finding ways of living in a viable and ongoing relationship with our environment, including the other human beings and societies that help make up that environment, is an increasingly important issue for all aspects of public and private life.

A one-day conference on May 10, organised by the Cardiff Humanities Research Institute and the Body, Health and Religion Research Group, will explore academic responses to the challenges of sustainability, both in research development and related curriculum innovation.

Focusing specifically on the implications of sustainability for the Humanities, the conference will cover a range of intriguing and pressing questions such as

  • Where are the Humanities today in relation to the challenges of sustainability? What future directions could be emerging? What new opportunities might be grasped?
  • How do Humanities disciplines grapple with the complex processes of cultural, political, philosophical, religious and aesthetic change, to improve understanding about the futures we are creating?
  • What kinds of questions do we need to ask of the historical and cultural record, to deepen and to contextualise our understanding of sustainability and unsustainability?
  • How can researchers in the Humanities work together across institutional and knowledge boundaries, to support broader modes of understanding and to address the implications for teaching and learning?
  • Can sustainability provide a central image and focus through which we can direct our work and relate it to the world around us?

Speaking about the event, Professor Geoffrey Samuel, of the Cardiff Humanities Research Institute said: "There is a growing impetus for the Humanities to address sustainability issues. We hope that this conference will stimulate the research culture across the University, particularly within the Humanities Schools.

"The aim of the conference is to connect academic development geared to sustainability with related education, learning and collaborative activities within the communities around us. It will also explore possible avenues for future research and projects that might improve sustainability prospects in our local region and the wider Welsh and UK contexts."

Headline presentations at the event will be given by academics from the University and beyond and include Professor Justin Lewis, Head of the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies who will speak on the extent to which the media can support or hinder our responses to sustainability and the environment; Professor Barbara Adam of the School of Social Sciences; Professor Daniella Tilbury, Director of Sustainability at the University of Gloucestershire, and Dr Colin Brooks, Consultant to the Higher Education Academy who will speak on the subject of sustainability and environmental history.

Staff, students and other interested parties are welcome to attend the conference, which takes place on Monday May 10 between 10am-5pm at the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences. To register, please email Geoffrey Samuel ( indicating any dietary or access requirements. The full programme of events and further information is available at