Climate Change: Disciplinary Challenges to the Humanities & the Social Sciences

This is part of our special feature Facing the Anthropocene.


Week 1
New/Old Natures and Climate Science

  • Bill McKibben, “The End of Nature” from The End of Nature (40pp)
  • Bill Cronon, “Trouble with Wilderness” in Uncommon Ground (30pp)
  • Dipesh Chakrabarty, “Climate of History: Four Theses,” Critical Inquiry 35 (2009): 197-222
  • Chapters 1-2 and 9-10 from Zalasiewicz and Williams, The Goldilocks Planet (120pp)

Climate Science (cont.)

  • Remaining chapters of The Goldilocks Planet (150pp)
  • Sections 1 and 3 from David Archer, The Long Thaw (115pp)


Week 2
Joshua Howe’s work

  • Joshua Howe, Behind the Curve (300pp) (available online through the University of Chicago library website)
  • Howe, “The Stories We Tell,” Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences, 42.3 (2012): 244-54
  • Howe, “This is Nature, This is Un-Nature,” Environmental History 20 (2015): 286-93
  • Howe, draft introduction and chapter from Making Climate Change History: Working with Document’s From Global Warming’s Past (forthcoming) (56pp)
  • Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, “The Denial of Global Warming” in Merchants of Doubt (50pp)


Anthropocene Science

  • Paul Crutzen, “Geology of Mankind,” Nature 415 (2002) (2 pp)
  • Will Steffen, Jacques Grinevald, Paul Crutzen, and John McNeill, “The Anthropocene: Conceptual and Historical Perspectives,” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society 369 (2011): 842-67
  • Johan Rockström et al., “Planetary Boundaries: Exploring the Safe Operating Space for Humanity,” Ecology and Society 14 (2009): 32-65


The Anthropocene and Its Critics

  • Schellenberger and Nordhaus, “Death of Environmentalism” (37pp)
  • Andreas Malm and Alf Hornborg, “The Geology of Mankind: A Critique of the Anthropocene Narrative,” The Anthropocene Review 1 (2014): 62-9
  • Richard B. Norgaard, “The Econocene and the Delta,” San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science 11 (2013): 1-5
  • Jason Moore, selections (TBD) from forthcoming anthology on the capitalocene


Week 1
“The Capitalocene: Readings from Jason Moore”

Special visitor: Jason Moore (SUNY Binghamton)

  • Introduction and chapter 8 from Capitalism in the Web of Life
  • “Rise of Cheap Nature,” from forthcoming Anthropocene or Capitalocene
  • “Amsterdam is Standing on Norway Part II” Journal of Agrarian Change (2010)


“Problems of Scale”

  • Julia Adeney Thomas, “History and Biology in the Anthropocene: Problems of Scale, Problems of Value,” American Historical Review, December 2014
  • Elinor Ostrom, “A Polycentric Approach for Coping with Climate Change”
  • Deborah Coen, “Big is a Thing of the Past,” Journal for the History of Ideas, forthcoming
  • Noah Heringman, “Deep Time at the Dawn of the Anthropocene,” Representations 129, no. 1 (Winter 2015): 56–85


Week 2
Special guest: Jason Kelly (IUPUI)

  • Lorimer, Jamie. “Multinatural Geographies for the Anthropocene.” Progress in Human Geography 36, no. 5 (October 1, 2012): 593–612.
  • Åsberg, Cecilia, Astrida Neimanis, and Johan Hedrén. “Four Problems, Four Directions For Environmental Humanities : Toward A Critical Posthumanities For the Anthropocene.” Ethics and the Environment 20, no. 1 (2014): 67–97.
  • Lövbrand, Eva, Silke Beck, Jason Chilvers, Tim Forsyth, Johan Hedrén, Mike Hulme, Rolf Lidskog, and Eleftheria Vasileiadou. “Who Speaks for the Future of Earth? How Critical Social Science Can Extend the Conversation on the Anthropocene.” Global Environmental Change 32 (May 2015): 211–18.
  • Burdon, Peter, Georgina Drew, Matthew Stubbs, Adam Webster, and Marcus Barber. “Decolonising Indigenous Water ‘rights’ in Australia: Flow, Difference, and the Limits of Law.” Settler Colonial Studies 5, no. 4 (2015): 334–49.


“What is the Public Role of the Humanities in the Climate Change Debate?”
Special guest: Jason Kelly

  • Clingerman, Forrest. “Environmental Amnesia or the Memory of Place? The Need for Local Ethics of Memory in a Philosophical Theology of Place.” In Religion and Ecology in the Public Sphere, edited by Celia Deane-Drummond and Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, 141–59. London: T&T Clark, 2011.
  • Goldstein, Bruce Evan, Anne Taufen Wessells, Raul Lejano, and William Butler. “Narrating Resilience: Transforming Urban Systems Through Collaborative Storytelling.” Urban Studies 52, no. 7 (May 1, 2015): 1285–1303.
  • Vanasupa, Linda, Lizabeth Schlemer, Roger Burton, Courtney Brogno, Ginger Hendrix, and Neal MacDougall. “Laying the Foundation for Transdisciplinary Faculty Collaborations: Actions for a Sustainable Future.” Sustainability 6, no. 5 (May 14, 2014): 2893–2928.
  • Pandya, Rajul E. “Community-Driven Research in the Anthropocene.” In Future Earth—Advancing Civic Understanding of the Anthropocene, edited by Diana Dalbotten, Gillian Roehrig, and Patrick Hamilton, 53–66. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2014.
  • Russell, Bertie. “Beyond Activism/academia: Militant Research and the Radical Climate and Climate Justice Movement(s).” Area 47, no. 3 (September 1, 2015): 222–29.


Week 3
Special visitor: Christophe Bonneuil (EHESS)

  • Preface and chapters 2, 4, & 10 from The Shock of the Anthropocene



Week 1

  • Parikka, Geology of Media, Chapter 2
  • Peters, The Marvelous Clouds, Chapters 3 and 5


Week 2

  • Vernadsky, selections from The Biosphere (“The Biosphere as Cosmic Medium,” “The Biosphere as a Region of Transformation,” “Living Matter in the Biosphere,” “The Multiplication of Organisms,” “The Limits of Life in the Biosphere”)
  • Malm, Fossil Capital, Chapters 13 and 15
  • Clark and Yusoff, “Combustion and Society: A Fire-Centered History of Energy Use”


Week 3
Readings in response to Ursula Heise

Ursula Heise will be visiting the Center for International Studies to discuss “Global Thought and the Anthropocene” in conversation with Bill Brown, Fredrik Albritton Jonsson, and Benjamin Morgan on Wednesday, May 4, in Social Sciences Building room 122 (1126 E. 59th St.).

  • Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, The Collapse of Western Civilization, selections
  • Ursula Heise, Imagining Extinction (forthcoming), selections


Week 4
Biosphere and the Climate

  • Williams et al., “The Anthropocene Biosphere,” The Anthropocene Review
  • Whitington, “The Terrestrial Envelope,” in A Cultural History of Climate Change (due out in April)
  • Taylor, The Sky of Our Manufactures, Introduction and Chapter 1 (due out March 23)


Week 5
Anthropocene Futures (Tobias Menely in residence)



Published on May 2, 2017
Click here to view Hélène Ducros’s Q&A with Fredrik Albritton Jonsson, Benjamin Morgan, Michael Dango, and Emily Lynn Osborn.


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