The Designated Emphasis in Environmental Humanities allows UC Davis graduate students from affiliated departments to concentrate their studies on questions related to the environment as a philosophical concept, a historical and cultural category, a venue for ethical and political struggle, the material context of social reproduction, and the terrain of all creative work. Using tools adapted from the humanities and humanistic social sciences, affiliated faculty lead graduate students in the study of the relationships between and among humans and animals, societies and ecosystems, global economies and the Earth system.

Within the wider field of environmental studies, the emergent interdisciplinary field of the environmental humanities is uniquely suited to engage questions of values and justice and to take up problems related to the narration, framing, and representation of environmental crises. The environment is too large and complex a subject to be understood or taught through any single discipline or field. Environmental humanities offers both a humanistic focus that brings new perspectives to environmental studies, and an interdisciplinarity that allows the latitude and flexibility required to advance environmental knowledge. In an era of accelerating climate change and widespread biodiversity loss, the environmental humanities have a key role to play in environmental education and in the generation of socio-ecological knowledge.