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A case study in citizen environmental humanities : creating a participatory plant story website

  • Gianquitto, Tina
  • LaFauci, Lauren
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2022
DOI: 10.1007/s13412-021-00744-8
DiVA - Academic Archive On-line
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Public engagement in crowd-sourced science projects such as iNaturalist or the Audubon Christmas Bird Count is a long-established practice within environmental studies and sciences. As a corollary to these “citizen science” efforts, “citizen humanities” engages public participation in humanities research and/or with humanities tools such as creative writing, photography, art-making, or conducting and recording interviews. In this essay, we outline our work creating a citizen environmental humanities website, Herbaria 3.0, including our motivations, process, and theoretical underpinnings. This project draws upon the critical understanding within environmental studies of the importance of narrative and storytelling for fostering a connection and commitment to environments and nonhuman beings. Situated within the field of environmental humanities, our website solicits, collects, and archives stories about the manifold relationships between plants and people, inviting visitors to read, share, or write their own story for digital publication. The kind of environmental storytelling that results, we argue, can (1) enrich our conceptualization of attachment to places, (2) expand our notion of what “counts” as an encounter with nature, and (3) help us recognize the agency of individual plants. We conclude that similar citizen humanities projects are crucial to the ongoing work of environmental humanities and environmental studies at large, for it is through such public engagement that we can meet the cultural challenges that seeded, and the societal problems occasioned by, ongoing climate change. / <p>Funding: Open access funding provided by Linköping University. This research was supported in part by the Seed Box Environmental Humanities Collaboratory hosted at Linköping University, Sweden, which itself is funded by Mistra, The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research, and Formas, a Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development. Some aspects of this research were undertaken while LaFauci was in residence at and thus supported by the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, LMU-Munich, Germany. Our research is also supported by faculty funding from the Department of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO, USA, and from the Department of Thematic Studies, Linköping University, Sweden.</p>

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