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More about The Seed Box

The Seed Box is currently a pilot program that we aim to build into an international Swedish research hub by 2019. As articulated by our funders, Mistra and Formas, the purpose of the Seed Box program is “to bring about a vigorous national initiative in environmentally oriented humanities, with the ambition of achieving international reference status within a few years. The programme is to be interdisciplinary, with a core of humanities.” This humanities core is essential to our mission to use our scholarly capacities to contribute to solving pressing environmental problems. 

The “environmental humanities” is a relatively new field of study comprising a trans- and multi-disciplinary community of scholars working in literature, history, philosophy, fine arts, anthropology, geography, archaeology, gender studies, human-animal studies, and more; its scope is often transnational and transcultural. Environmental humanities projects distinguish themselves from other interdisciplinary humanities work in their thinking through/thinking with nature and the environment; their activist orientations; and their bridge-building between different environmental story-telling practices, disciplines, or knowledge communities. This field simultaneously addresses “lacunae in the humanities, which seldom address science and technology in detail, and lacunae in environmental studies, where analysis typically emphasizes science and social science” (Mistra “Background Paper: The Emergence of the Environmental Humanities,” May 2013, pp. 6-8). At the Seed Box, our practice of environmental humanities includes innovative forms of critical and creative “posthumanities,” which bridge the gaps between natural and cultural sciences—as well as those between universities and the citizens they serve—with a focus on posthuman ethics and social and ecological justice. 

The Seed Box begins from the premise that nature is no longer separable from culture. Humans have created toxic waste zones, biodiversity losses, water and soil degradations, and, of course, changes in our climate through emission of fossil fuels. And nature has brought the impacts of these changes back to us in the forms of environmental diseases and toxicities, allergies, food scarcities, and so on. In this new era—which many have named the Anthropocene, the Age of Humans—the environment is in us, and we are fully in the environment. Yet until recently, environmental research has primarily been a focus for the natural and technical sciences, and, increasingly, the social sciences. Rising to the global and local challenges presented by the climate crisis will require new transdisciplinary approaches that consider nature and culture integrated. As environmental activist Gus Speth pithily argued, 

I used to think the top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse, and climate change. I thought that with 30 years of good science, we could address those problems. But I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed, and apathy. And to deal with those we need a spiritual and cultural transformation—and we scientists don’t know how to do that.

Accordingly, we believe that sustainability of resources and equitable prosperity cannot be achieved without an attention to imagination and creativity; social justice; postcolonial, feminist, more-than-human ethics; history and historiography; and difference and diversity. The Seed Box believes we need alternative ways of telling our environmental stories so that we may simultaneously re-write the story of our environmental planetary future. Our form of environmental (post-)humanities rethinks the place of humanity in nature and culture, in the process building bridges between disparate disciplines, communities, and narratives.

The Seed Box proceeds from an imperative to create a vibrant, societally relevant humanities practice that encompasses the entire more-than-human world and that values global indigenous knowledges and meaning-making alongside those in the academic realm. We aim to problematize dominant stories through critique while creating more intersectionally just ways of being together in the world.

The Seed Box is led by Program Director Jesper Olsson, with support from Björn Pernrud, Program Administrator, and Lauren LaFauci, Program Convenor, as well as an executive board and an advisory board. The program's founding director, and now one of its scientific leaders, Professor Cecilia Åsberg notes, “The Seed Box is the starting point. [With our entire] Environmental Humanities Collaboratory—our large consortium [universities]—we are establishing The Seed Box as a research hub for lively and exploratory environmental humanities research [where we are] thinking with our more-than-human planet, with nature, Earth others, and especially with intensifying human diversity when pursuing our quest for justice, purpose, meaning, and value.”