Environmental Humanities on the Other Side of the Globe

David Gray, Senior Lecturer in English at Dalarna University, spent a month as a guest researcher in Perth, Western Australia, at a centre that studies the way in which we, within the humanities, define and reflect on our surroundings.

Edith Cowan University in Perth
Edith Cowan University in Perth

During his stay, David visited the International Centre for Landscape and Language at Edith Cowan University. The mission of the centre is "to promote research, teaching, scholarship, publishing, field trips and creative activity in all aspects of the interrelationship between landscape and language."

"Mostly, it looks as questions as to how we define, represent, and reflect on our environment, landscape, nature, and such in language, literature, and culture. For example, do we perceive rural areas to be natural environments or artificial environments? Does that picture derive from literature, language, culture, or media?" explains David Gray.

Heading the centre is Professor Glen Phillips, who is both author and prominent researcher of Australian literature. During his stay in Perth, David had the opportunity to conduct his research on authors who have written about Western Australia, such as D.H. Lawrence,

"The experience helped broaden my understanding of writers of landscape, and relates to my previous research on the British-Irish author Lady Constance Malleson, who wrote extensively about Sweden and the Nordic countries," explains David Gray further.

David also attended a weekly seminar series at the university's Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts, Technology, Education and Communications (CREATEC), establishing contacts with local and regional writer centres.

The trip has resulted in collaboration in the area of environmental humanities between ECU and Dalarna University. David is now on the editorial board as co-editor of the international, interdisciplinary, and open-access e-journal Landscapes: the Journal of the International Centre for Landscape and Language.

"Part of my role is to develop a five-year strategy for the journal, the goal being to increase its research status and visibility, and to help cultivate collaborative, international research on environmental humanities," says David.

Other research collaboration is in place between Dalarna University and Australian institutes of higher education. Professor Monika Vinterek, Pedagogical Work, works with two research groups at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales: GERT The Global Education Research and Teaching Team and HERMES Historical Experience, Representation, Media, Education, Society that publishes the journal Historical Encounters, where she is member of the editorial board.

This collaboration has resulted in joint research projects as well as many study visits. One of the researchers at GERT, Associate Professor Ruth Reynolds, is spending April and May in Sweden, where she will be part of a seminar held by Dalarna University's research profile Education and Learning.

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