Integration of the Arts and Humanities with Environmental Science in the LTER Network

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Leigh, Mary Beth; Nelson, Michael Paul; Goralnik, Lissy; Swanson,Frederick J. 2021. Integration of the Arts and Humanities with Environmental Science in the LTER Network. In: The Challenges of Long Term Ecological Research: A Historical Analysis. 11.315-336. doi:


A broad spectrum of arts and humanities activities has emerged organically within the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) program including disciplines such as philosophy and ethics, creative writing, and the visual, multimedia, musical, and performing arts. The majority of LTER sites now hosts activities that integrate the environmental sciences with the arts and humanities (eSAH). These programs serve important functions central to the LTER mission, including, but not limited to, public engagement, outreach, and education. Some LTER eSAH programs additionally consider these activities as steps toward the aspirational goal of helping society address grand social-ecological challenges of the twenty-first century, challenges that science alone cannot overcome. The arts and humanities can offer critical dimensions to this mission and to outreach, education, and general edification, such as awakening and engaging ethics, values, empathy, and wonder in individuals and societies. In this chapter, we reflect upon eSAH efforts across the LTER network, including their history, value to LTER’s mission, challenges, and aspirations and share case studies of eSAH activities from several LTER programs, including their objectives, organizational models, audiences, and outcomes.
Keywords: LTER program Long-term ecological research Science-arts collaborations Science-humanities collaborations Environmental ethics Ecological outreach Ecological education