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Environmental Humanities: Evaluating the Theory-Practice Gap

‘Environmental Humanities’ has emerged as an umbrella term to describe the work of humanistic scholars, architects, and ecologists that are broadly motivated by concerns about the environment.

Published onOct 24, 2019
Environmental Humanities: Evaluating the Theory-Practice Gap
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Abstract

‘Environmental Humanities’ has emerged as an umbrella term to describe the work of humanistic scholars, architects, and ecologists that are broadly motivated by concerns about the environment. Rather than focusing solely on scientific and technological solutions to problems, the environmental humanities address these complex issues through the multiple lenses of history, philosophy, literature, language, culture, and the built environment (Buell 2005). According to cultural theorist Joni Adamson, multiple fields must be brought together because our problems with sustainability not only emerges out of nature, but also out of human cultures and ways of being. Sustainability experts working in the built realm and humanists can, therefore, come together to think about the ways in which our world is rapidly changing to examine what is it about humans and the ways we live that can help evaluate the theory practice gap in the built realm.

To this end, this investigation argues that we are at an important juncture between the declared intended goals of sustainable projects realized to date, and the results on the ground, and in turn how this reality influences education. To analyze this discrepancy, I have identified a common theory practice gap as an evaluation tool to learn how to plan for sustainable development to help resolve economic and ethical conflicts without risking the creation of socio-spatial utopias. This conceptual framework has two purposes: first, it helps to systematize the existing literature on three levels: ontological, methodological, and epistemological; and second, it offers a project evaluation framework, useful for the management of resources, the planning of urban space, and the need for an integrated practice through the lens of environmental humanities. To pinpoint these challenges, this investigation seeks to bridge the divide between sustainable

assessment tools and environmental discourse to adopt a more integrated and relevant sustainability framework. ( figure 1)

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