Green Humanities

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History of the Green Humanities at NTU

In 2010 NTU declared “Sustainable Earth” to be its “Peak of Peaks.” This exciting declaration meant Sustainable Earth was the top priority of the university’s five-year plan (or “Peaks of Excellence,” collectively known as NTU 2015). At the time, the School of Humanities (SoH) and the School of Social Sciences (SSS) were combined as one unit: the school of “Humanities and Social Sciences” (HSS).

In light of NTU 2015 HSS soon formed the “Environment and Sustainability Research Cluster” headed by Dr. Md Saidul Islam (Sociology) and Dr. Chang Youngho (Economics). Faculty across HSS submitted grant proposals, organized conferences, and taught modules that catered to a range of environmental perspectives: environmental history, sustainability, systems thinking, and ecocriticism among them.

In 2014 HSS hired Dr. Michelle Merrill as a member of the Environment and Sustainability Research Cluster to assist in developing sustainability education pedagogy at NTU. Dr. Merrill worked closely with colleagues at the National Institute for Education (NIE) in organizing annual “Education for Sustainability” conferences. Dr. Merrill also organized monthly “Sustainability Salons” (2014-2016) alongside a seminar series that hosted international speakers. The Research Cluster built bridges with NTU’s Arts, Design, and Media sustainability team (ADM’s S-TEAM) and helped to publicize sustainability events around Singapore (including the annual Singapore Sustainability Symposium and events at the National University of Singapore). HSS was excited to contribute to NTU’s “Peak of Peaks” for NTU 2015. “Environment and Sustainability” salons and seminars during this important period included:

  • “Creating a Culture of Sustainability at NTU” (9 October 2014; group discussion)
  • “Is A Sustainable Earth Possible?” (13 February 2015; Salon Speaker: Md Saidul Islam)
  • “Biomimicry and the Biomimicry Global Design Challenge 2015 Regarding Food Systems” (2 April 2015; Salon Speaker: Michelle Merrill)
  • “Evacuation and Migration in Response to Environmental Hazards: Living with Tsunami Risk, Aceh” (19 October 2015; Seminar Speaker: Jamie McCaughey)
  • “Our Changing Climate: Knowledge and the Political Order” (24 November 2015; Seminar Speaker: Nico Stehr)
  • “Eden in Iraq: The Wastewater Garden Project” (23 November 2015; Salon Speaker: Meridel Rubenstein)
  • “Climate Change and China: How Chinese Philosophy Can Help Save the Race” (21 March 2016; Speaker: Graham Ross Parkes)


Faculty also organized a Sustainable Earth Film Series, international summer school collaborations, numerous environmental events and modules, and international conferences (such as Sustainable Networks in 2014 and Spontaneous Beauties: World Gardens and Gardens in the World in 2016).

In 2017 HSS restructured so that SoH and SSS branched off from this mutual root in interdisciplinary sustainability studies at NTU. Accordingly, SoH formed the Green Humanities Research Cluster and hired Dr. Kira Rose (Princeton) as a postdoctoral scholar specializing in the Environmental Humanities and the aesthetics of water. Dr. Rose is organizing a wonderful symposium—Environmental Humanities: Paving the Way Towards a Sustainable Future—featuring renowned novelist Amitav Ghosh and Fulbright scholar, sculptor, and activist Basia Irland as Keynote Speakers (12-13 October 2018).

So, those are the roots of the Green Humanities at NTU! Now, with the Research Cluster, SoH is renewing its commitment to the Green Humanities at NTU!

Please contact Assistant Professors Samara Cahill (sacahill@ntu.edu.sg) and Miles Powell (Miles.Powell@ntu.edu.sg) if you would like to receive updates about events and research in this exciting transdisciplinary, transhistorical field. The Green Humanities Research Cluster brings the rich perspectives of the humanities to one of the most critical conversations in human history: how to give a green world to the next generation. Be part of the Green Generation!​