Master Environmental Humanities
This innovative Master’s programme approaches the environment from the study of societies and cultures, in dialogue with the earth and life sciences, in order to train “generalised experts” who will work at the intersection between science, society, culture and politics. The aim is to provide students from different backgrounds with the necessary skills to become professionals in various existing or emerging sectors in France, Europe and internationally.
About the Master’s programme
The current environmental and climate crisis relates to the place humans occupy in the world, in connection with “others” – humans and non-humans – both past and present. It reveals complex societal issues related to purpose, identities and justice. For this reason, environmental policy cannot be limited to specific sectors, responding to issues in isolation, but must be a “policy of the whole” that requires profound transformations through an interdisciplinary and systemic understanding of ecological challenges.
The aim of this degree programme in Environmental Humanities, which is unique in France, is to respond to the necessary disentanglement in the face of these major challenges, through a high-level education that adopts interdisciplinarity as a common thread. A team of researchers and teachers (specialists in classical, modern, French-language and foreign literature, philosophy, history and civilisations, geography, psychology, law, political science, planetology, economics, biology, chemistry, architecture, anthropology) has developed the content and methods of this educational programme, in collaboration with the Loire ecosystem and the international partners of Nantes Université.
The main skills this programme teaches
- To identify, select, analyse and critically synthesise specialised resources to document a topic;
- To mobilise specialised and innovative knowledge as a basis for original thinking;
- To manage complex, uncertain professional or study contexts that require new strategic methods through an interdisciplinary approach;
- Taking responsibility while respecting the principles of ethics, deontology and environmental responsibility;
- Leading a project (design, management, team coordination, implementation and management, evaluation, dissemination) that can mobilise multidisciplinary skills in a collaborative framework;
- Communication skills for the purpose of knowledge transfer (spoken and in writing, in French and in at least one foreign language).
Contents of the Master's programme
The degree programme in Environmental Humanities takes place over two years on the campuses of Nantes Université (in the city centre in the Creation district and in the green setting of the banks of the Erdre). Theoretical courses, conferences and presentations by professionals, field studies and projects will allow a professional perspective on the issues at hand.
The opening up through the creation of Nantes Université (which brings the School of Fine Arts Nantes Saint-Nazaire and the School of Architecture of Nantes) enables the integration of the perspectives of architecture, urban planning and arts. In addition, collaboration with artists facilitates conversations between literature, art and society, history and politics, geography and economics, and invites creative responses to the complexity of environmental issues in different cultures and societies.
An essential aspect of the work for the students is to create a cohesive group and a cooperative work environment, and to jointly acquire tools for working with different actors (reporting in front of an audience, storytelling, linking experiential and academic knowledge, etc.).
An immersive field trip at the beginning of Year 1 will allow students to discover environmental issues and apply interdisciplinary research methods and skills related to group work from the start of the programme. This will involve, on the one hand, engaging with a case study through the use of diversified research methods and, on the other hand, communicating scientific content to the general public through artistic approaches facilitated by artists and mediators. This first field study will promote experiential learning, group acculturation and creativity.
Internships, in France or abroad, complement the training in Year 1 and Year 2.
A significant proportion of the teaching, reading and assessments will be in English (the field of Environmental Humanities was born in Australia and the United States), so mastery of a good level of English (written and spoken) is essential to take full advantage of the programme. Proficiency in Spanish could be an asset in Year 1 and in Year 2, even if no course is held in Spanish.
At the end of the course, students will be able to
- Deconstruct their own conceptions of the environment, grasp the cultural and linguistic characteristics of distinct contexts, present understandings of the environment and nature in culturally and historically marked contexts;
- Cross-reference the contributions of different disciplinary fields to the same subject;
- Analyse a situation or a case in its historical, cultural, legal and aesthetic context;
- Communicate and express themselves easily (in writing and speach) in French and in at least one modern foreign language;
- Research Information, identify reliable sources and recent scientific work, sort them according to their relevance, produce a corpus and develop a literature review;
- Produce, analyse and mobilise quantitative (cartographic, statistics, databases) and qualitative (observation, interviews) data;
- Organise information according to a coherent and balanced plan to write an analysis or synthesis;
- Consider the standards and procedures for environmental issues and consciously apply them to support interventions;
- Recognise and evaluate different points of view on an issue;
- Respect the integrity of research and professional ethics;
- Adapt their vocabulary and behaviour to the cultural context;
- Cooperate or interact with a group of actors to create and manage a project related to the environment in a particular context;
- Model organisations and modes of operation;
- Develop and implement an approach and/or a scientific project;
- Be proficient in scientific dissemination and communication (written, spoken) to different audiences, from different cultures;
- Be able to communicate and interact with various interlocutors and actors to successfully cooperate with others;
- Implement a project or a study on an environmental issue from an interdisciplinary perspective.
This is a new training in France, which can lead directly to existing and emerging professions in very diverse fields, or continue to a PhD leading to a career in research. The existing Master’s programmes in Environmental Humanities in Europe include the following areas as employment opportunities:
- Private and public organisations in connection with climate change or the challenges of the habitability of the planet;
- Private companies with a strong CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) component;
- Government agencies (local, national, international) in charge of climate change and sustainable development (transversal skills suitable for policy-oriented organisations);
- Environmental NGOs (local, national, international), environmental consultancies;
- Careers in the field of environmental journalism, expert in environmental communication, public relations;
- Careers in formal or informal environmental education;
- Managing roles in organisations or institutions in environmental art and cultural institutions, expertise in intermediation, other emerging fields;
- Communication, films and media related to the environment;
The partners of Nantes Université in the EUniWell Alliance (European University of Well-being) have designed a course module (in English) integrated in this Master's degree. Similarly, students will be able to follow distance learning courses at universities abroad.
Professionalisation - Internships
In Year 2, two professionalisation options are offered, depending on the desired career: the Literature, Arts, Cultures (LAC) option and the Policy, Innovations, Scripts (PIC) option, with a pedagogical approach through projects.
Internships (2 months in Year 1, 4-6 months in Year 2) and research training are an integral part of this programme.
The Master’s programme is open to students holding a Bachelor's degree of any kind with an interest in the topics covered and a good level in written and spoken English.