Skip to content

Congratulations, Class of 2024!


Congratulations to our seven 2024 Environmental Humanities Master's graduates! Their dedication to understanding and addressing environmental challenges is commendable. From exploring Nature relatedness in Black youth and families to decolonizing archeological practices and understandings, we have been lucky to see each of our students grow and develop their expertise in the Environmental Humanities discipline. Below is a summary of their final work in our program.


The Nature of Inclusion: Exploring Nature-Based Structured Experiences for Black Youth and Their Communities by Sydney Murray

While black Americans have found unique and creative ways to connect to nature despite a history of displacement and exclusion, the need to investigate and establish more options for accessing black nature-relatedness in spaces that have not been widely attended to in the past is evident. Braiding together historical and archival analysis of the U.S. black-nature relationship, research conducted in Richmond, VA, and personal narrative, Murray will explore a conversation on how nature-based programs can better support and enhance black Americans’ connection to nature with the use of Environmental Humanities-grounded principals and methodologies as an operational foundation.


Disturbances: Cultural Stratification and Contamination on the Grasse River by Skylar Fetter

The release of Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) into the Grasse River by the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa), now Arconic, has had widespread consequences for the nearby Indigenous community of Akwesasne even as remediation of the site continues. EPA, the lead agency on the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) cleanup, installed a capping remedy to contain the contaminants in the sediment of the river in 2021. Tribal members have argued for decades that this was not an effective remedy, insisting it did not protect the ecological and cultural importance of the Grasse River. When the cap was damaged in an ice scour in March 2022, it reaffirmed the community’s opposition to the remedy. Drawing on a family history of land-based resistance and hours of interviews with leaders in the community, Skylar’s thesis interweaves personal narrative, community ethnography, traditional ecological knowledge, and federal policies to elucidate the interdependent relationships formed through the river. In doing so, this thesis asserts the sovereign and sacred right of Akwesasro:non to decide how to protect these relationships through proper, long-term remediation and restoration methods.


Mad Mud and Strange Survival: A Meeting in the Undefined by Esther Mathieu

Wetlands are tricky ecosystems: things shift and intersect, lines are indistinct, hard boundaries give way to soft gradations. The Mad bodymind, often known to us under a medical model as a person with mental illnesses, is likewise liminal and hard to pin down. In both cases, the entity at hand is marked as deviant and transgressive for the slips it makes from harsh conventional logics. The Mad bodymind and the wetland ecosystem are similarly lively, finding new ways of interdependent thriving outside of cultural norms; likewise, they are similarly enclosed, suppressed, and contained. Esther’s project gives them a meeting place, a physical ground upon which to encounter and inform one another, giving us space to learn better ways of being in relation to both through the engagement between the two.


Ecotage! A Game of Climate Activism and Uncertainty for 3-6 Players by Rune Davino-Collins

Rune’s project is a tabletop roleplaying game meant to serve as a supportive discussion framework through which people may engage in a safe and creative way with uncertain and frightening climate futures. The filter of roleplay in a toy version of the climate apocalypse allows players to feel a greater sense of agency throughout the experience, which in turn allows these climate discussions to move beyond affects of paralyzing dread or complacent optimism. Players in this space can then ask serious questions about their own values, brainstorm strategies for radical climate action, and practice working through uncertainty in community.


COAST Card: An Evaluation Case Study for International and Transdisciplinary Socio-Environmental Collaboration by Pheej Lauj

Climate change and anthropogenic impacts continue to reshape how waterways, oceans, and coastal communities exist. Ever-evolving ecosystems, increased urbanization, and population growth calls for diverse networks of researchers, community practitioners, and members of the public to advance socio-ecological justice and resilience -- together. The rise of transdisciplinary approaches in academia mirrors the need for deeper value and investment in diverse knowledges and community inclusion. In the name of progress, evaluation is a tool that can provide integral insight to such collaborative processes. In this case study and across the Chesapeake Bay of the U.S., Manila Bay of the Philippines, and Tokyo Bay of Japan, Lor explores the benefits of evaluation design and integration for stakeholder and community engagement for the Coastal Ocean Assessment for Sustainability and Transformation (COAST Card) project.


In the Middle at the Margins: Resilience, Novelty and Futurity at Lee Kay Conservation Area by Maggie Scholle

Thinking about conservation land often evokes a standard set of images: tree-lined trails, high desert scrub, meandering streams. It’s unlikely that the term evokes images of a revegetated former landfill, let alone land within view of an actively operating one. My project explores the flourishing, tensions, and possibilities that emerge in public land with a volatile recent past. Used as a munitions testing ground from 1941-46 and solid waste landfill from 1982-93, today, Lee Kay Conservation Area is visited by birders, dog trainers, and shooting sports enthusiasts. The area gathers the highest bird species count in the county and is home to a resident mule deer population. Blending interviews, archival materials, fieldwork, and creative nonfiction, the project moves from the ecological novelty and unlikely species richness of the present, to local and regional histories of wastelanding that have produced the place we encounter today, to future imaginings. It concludes in the contested aspects of the present, where restoration might seek to acknowledge ways the past remains folded into the physical and social landscape of today, supporting mutual nonhuman-human thriving in the midst of it all.


Comprehension exam by Patrick Depret-Guillaume.

Patrick’s comprehensive exam focused on how the lessons of archaeology can be ethically applied to the grave challenges posed by contemporary anthropogenic environmental change. His essays considered the moral complexities of engaging in archaeological research on stolen Indigenous lands, the difficulty of defining the Anthropocene as a stratigraphic period, and the specific lessons archaeology can teach us today. Patrick argues that archaeology as a discipline must reckon more directly with its complicity in the genocide of Indigenous peoples, that debates over the validity of the Anthropocene framework serve to distract from the severity of global ecocide, and that archaeology teaches us that our current predicament is altogether unprecedented and has no historical or archaeological analogues.


We look forward to the future endeavors of each of these students as they employ tools of the environmental humanities to make this world a better place.


Share this article:


Last Updated: 5/6/24