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From Idea to Reality: The Evolution of eARThumanites at NYU Abu Dhabi

Updated: Jul 18, 2020

Article: Sophia Kalantzakos, Photo: Iih


The eARThumanities were born as an initiative at New York University Abu Dhabi in order to generate an interdisciplinary discourse and collaboration about the climate crisis facing our planet, our home. Spearheaded by the Arts and Humanities it reached out to all the divisions within the University, but also to students, the NYUAD and Abu Dhabi communities. At NYUAD many scholars have been working diligently on different aspects of the climate crisis and the Anthropocene. The eARThumanities embraced their work and their research, and highlighted its contribution to the climate discourse. Importantly, moreover, the eARThumanities is an initiative like no other in the MENA region and East Africa. From the outset the eARThumanities pursued partnerships with the GNU of New York University and collaboration with leading international institutions such as the Rachel Carson Center of LMU Munich. Workshops, exchanges and joint scholarship have been some of the outcomes of these collaborations.  

The arts and humanities have always given us the narratives to understand the world, to comprehend challenges, do something about them or even to come to terms with certain outcomes. For quite some time, science has given us all the information we need to accept that the climate crisis is manmade and cannot be ignored. Still, we have failed to make the drastic and necessary changes that will allow humanity and other living beings to continue to enjoy a world that has been so hospitable to us. We continue to degrade our ecosystems and maintain an unsustainable lifestyle while social and economic inequalities are skyrocketing.

The challenges facing the world today are complex and ever changing. They matter to the future of our planet, but lately the devastating impacts of the COVID pandemic has shifted the world’s attention as countries try to stay healthy and economically afloat.  The eARThumanities seeks to address a wide range of issues that should be top on the agenda of research institutions, policy makers and society more widely. The most current area of research in which the eARThumanities are hoping to help generate a vibrant discourse over the Geopolitics and Ecology of Himalayan Water. With glaciers rapidly melting, anxieties over future water scarcity are mounting. This is a problem that impacts the lives of 2.5 billion people. This is a project in which we will seek the contributions of leading experts, policymakers, students, and society hoping to draw attention to an issue that is already creating tensions between Nepal, India, China and the region more widely. 


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