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The Two Cultures in Environmental Studies

Just over 50 years ago, C. P. Snow delivered a now famous lecture at Cambridge University. His subject was "The Two Cultures," the sciences and the humanities. Straddling the two (he was both a chemist and a prolific novelist), Snow worried that the two cultures no longer understood, much less respected, each other. Although still very much an issue, in the academic world Snow's concern is frequently sidestepped, as these cultures often largely act independently of one another in most universities, belonging to entirely separate, autonomous divisions. When interdisciplinary work does take place, it is usually within one or the other of these very different cultures.

However, what happens when the two cultures are brought together--literally, under one roof? More than a hypothetical question, this is the challenge that environmental studies programs currently face. While the environmental sciences have been a major presence in American universities for over 40 years now, the environmental humanities have only recently exploded on the scene.  While some universities have largely ignored their presence, forward-thinking environmental studies programs are working to integrate the environmental humanities with the sciences. As our global environmental situation worsens, can these two very different cultures not only coexist, but work together for the benefit of each other--and the planet?

In "The Two Cultures in Environmental Studies," Ken Hiltner takes up this question.

Watch lecture in its entirety online:

Ken Hiltner (Visiting Professor of English and the Princeton Environmental Institute Currie C. and Thomas A. Barron Visiting Professor in the Environment and Humanities). Hiltner is a professor in the English Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara where he has served as director of the Early Modern Center, director of Graduate Studies, and director of the Literature and the Environment Center.