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Cultural Imaginaries of Just Transitions: Fostering Interdisciplinary Discussion on Research and Teaching of Contemporary Ecological Challenge

PIs: (opens in a new window)Dr Treasa De Loughry, (opens in a new window)Dr Sharae Deckard

This project puts the frameworks of 'just transitions'—that is, equitable energy and socio-economic transitions from fossil fuels to renewables—into dialogue with the critical and literary insights of humanities scholars. Through a series of workshops we will examine how cultural production mediates the desires and community formations generated by fossil fuel reliant societies, and how new representational forms can reframe how we imagine and participate in a world of climate emergency, with consequences for teaching and research at UCD.

Literary studies and the environmental humanities have been profoundly impacted by the headway made by the “energy humanities”—a field which, in the context of urgent concerns regarding the climate emergency, has pioneered new ways of thinking about the fuels and infrastructures that power our “real” world and fictional universes. However, less well-theorised is the role that culture – fiction, poetry, film, visual art – can play in just transitions. Discussions of just transitions, that is, equitable energy and socio-economic transitions from fossil fuels to renewables, focus largely on technical and regulatory questions (McCauley and Heffron 2018, Wang and Lo 2021). But just transitions must also involve the critical and literary insights of humanities scholars into the ways culture has mediated the desires, affects and community formations generated by fossil fuel reliant societies, such as popular representations of the “freedom” associated with open roads (Mitchell 2011, LeMenager 2014, Szeman et al 2016). The point of this critical-literary questioning is to unpick what cultural imaginaries or narrative apparatuses might aid in generating a sustainable and just post-fossil fuel society, particularly with the advent of renewables and the impact of climate change. Any future energy transition must necessitate transforming the whole of “nature-society” through new cultural forms that reframe how we perceive collective ways of organising and participating in a world of radically-altered socio-ecological relations. Starting in 2023 this project will examine these issues through a series of workshops focused on emerging cultural trends related to just transitions; the cross-disciplinary teaching of major environmental issues at UCD; and a series of outputs including a web presence, podcasts, and academic publications.

If you are interested in knowing more please get in touch with project lead, Dr Treasa De Loughry ((opens in a new window)treasa.deloughry@ucd.ie); or the Director of the Environmental Humanities Thematic Strand, Dr Sharae Deckard ((opens in a new window)sharae.deckard@ucd.ie).


Cultural Imaginaries of Just Transitions | Workshop & Symposium
Wednesday, 5th June & Thursday, 6th June 2024, time TBC | HI Seminar Room H204

Details to follow.

Theorising Research Ecologies? An Environmental Humanities Symposium
Thursday, 11th April 2024, 9am – 5pm (UTC Dublin time) | HI Seminar Room H204 + online

How can the environmental humanities expand to consider ‘research environment’ as a form of environment? How do factors such as location, networking, and working conditions matter to the environmental critic? Through a day of discussions, presentations, and provocations, this event advances the environmental humanities in new place-based and politically engaged directions. 

Keynote Speakers: Dr Michelle Bastian and Dr Sam Solnick

Free to attend in-person or online | Register (opens in a new window)here
Some travel bursaries are available for Ireland-based early career researchers (click here for application form).

A collaboration between MARBEFES (Ashley Cahillane) and Cultural Imaginaries of Just Transitions (Treasa De Loughry). Funded by the UCD Humanities Institute, the UCD Earth Institute, and the UCD College of Arts and Humanities.
Email (opens in a new window)ashley.cahillane@ucd.ie for more details.

Sustainable Transitions and Pedagogy: a coffee morning
Thursday, 13th April 2023, 10am-12pm, Room H1.47 Science Centre, UCD + zoom
What appetite is there for the cross-disciplinary teaching of environmental issues like the climate emergency and just transitions? What are the challenges and opportunities of teaching across Schools and Colleges? How might we draw on our diverse pedagogical approaches in teaching environmental issues and/ or similar compound crises? Please join us for a hybrid coffee morning to discuss these questions. No advance preparation required.

Co-organised by Treasa De Loughry and Aparajita Banerjee

Project PIs:

Grant PI:

(opens in a new window)Dr Treasa De Loughry (UCD School of English, Drama and Film)
(opens in a new window)treasa.deloughry@ucd.ie

Environmental Humanities Director of Strand:

(opens in a new window)Dr Sharae Deckard (UCD School of English, Drama and Film)
(opens in a new window)sharae.deckard@ucd.ie

Image credit: CC by Conall

UCD Humanities Institute

University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
T: +353 1 716 4690 | E: humanities@ucd.ie |