On 15 March 2016, Digital Environmental Humanities (DEH) was offered for the first time at the University of Pretoria. DEH is a key course component in the Visual Culture Studies module titled ‘New Media’ (VKK 222). The course is connected to a number of research projects at the University of Pretoria, namely: the African Observatory for Environmental Humanities and DIGITatUP. The course is lectured by Rory du Plessis.
The module content focuses on using social media and visual research methods (e.g.: Photovoice) to inspire eco-action. The course encourages the students to be active learners: to go out into their local environment and make observations; to be led by independent research; and to communicate their research via blog activities and various social media platforms. Accordingly, the links to the students’ blogs, photographs and environmental excursions are available on Instagram and Twitter by searching for #DigEcoAction.
The course covers four themes:
Theme 1: Environmental Humanities and the media (commences on: 15 March)
Offers an introduction to the key tenets, discourses and aims of Environmental Humanities (EH). Provides an EH critique of how media articles report on environmental concerns.
Theme 2: Anthropocene (commences on: 5 April)
Provides an introduction to the key propositions of the Anthropocene. A key outcome is increasing our understanding and sensitivity of how the Anthropocene is evident in our local environment.
Theme 3: Companion Species (commences on: 11 April)
Enhances our sensitivity to how humans require interspecies relations and companions. The students will be required to interview participants in order to develop narratives that explore human relations with companion species.
Theme 4: Photovoice (commences on: 19 April)
The theme aims to enable the students to identify environmental concerns within their immediate surroundings and to promote critical dialogue around the key issues. Photovoice will be used to identify, represent and address environmental issues within the students local community. Photovoice is a visual research method in which photographs are taken by research participants. These photographs are used to instigate, guide and enrich discussions in qualitative interviews.
This blog serves to provide a platform to showcase some of the students submissions over the four themes.