From the Project Directors
With the beauty of Montana and Yellowstone National Park as our backdrop, we invite you to join us and fifteen of your peers in this stimulating three-week NEH Summer Seminar for School Teachers. Our goal is to explore what the humanities can add to our increasingly important public discourse about the environment. We believe that the humanities provide rich context for reflecting on our relationship with nature and can therefore complement contemporary scientific discussion in important and necessary ways. Throughout our time together we will draw upon a variety of religious, literary, fine arts, and cinematic perspectives. We hope to uncover both new avenues for thinking about our place in nature and new approaches for engaging the humanities in the classroom.
In titling the seminar “Re-enchanting Nature,” we have drawn inspiration from Wendell E. Berry’s notion of “affection.” For Berry, affection constitutes “such love for a place and its life that [one wants] to preserve it and remain in it.” Affection is a product of the imagination, which enables us “to see most clearly, familiarly, and understandingly with the eyes, but also to see inwardly, with ‘the mind’s eye.’” Since the humanities have always been the patrons of the imagination, it is up to them to determine what forms affection and enchantment might take in our contemporary world. Science provides us with important knowledge about how our environment functions, but it cannot say anything about how we should value it or how we should balance our commitments to human and non-human others. And so, now more than ever, we need “Humanities Perspectives.” To this end, our seminar will provide an interdisciplinary survey organized around four topics:
- Exploring origins
- Nature and Commerce
- Wilderness Bounded and Unbounded
- We versus Us: Community, Culture, and Environment
If you are a K-12 teacher or administrator with a love for the humanities in all its forms and an interest in bringing more discussion of nature into humanities curricula, please consider joining us in Montana this July. We hope this website will provide you with the information you need to decide whether this seminar is right for you, but please do not hesitate to contact us with questions.
Chris Fuller and Ed Glowienka