ASU sustainability scholar explores the origins of human thinking on climate

Joni AdamsonAs Joni Adamson tells it, these are exciting times for the environmental humanities. And she should know: Adamson, a senior sustainability scholar at the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University, was recently awarded a highly sought-after fellowship from the National Humanities Center and is now looking forward to advancing her work in this realm. Adamson, whose work explores the intersections between literature and the environment from the perspective of environmental justice, has been tapped to receive the Benjamin N. Duke Fellowship of the Research Triangle Foundation. She is working on a new book that aims to trace the origins of human thinking on climate. According to Adamson, the cosmological origins of the environmental humanities can be traced back to “the journey of celebrated Prussian artist, geologist and surveyor Alexander von Humboldt who spent four years in the Amazon in the early 19th century.” After Humboldt published a best-selling five-volume treatise “Kosmos,” intellectuals such as Charles Darwin, Henry David Thoreau and Zora Neale Hurston were drawn to his work. “I am exploring how these writers began deploying Humboldt’s ideas about nature in ways that not only became foundational to the environmental humanities but began contributing to what I am calling a ‘climate canon,'” Adamson said. Her book is tentatively titled "Desirable Futures: Cosmos, Canon, and New Constellations of Practice in the Environmental Humanities."