Perspectives on Humanity & Nature

Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Sustainability,…

These are just some of the terms that are being used when talking about humanity and nature. Here will be a small collection of views on how humanity relates to nature relates to humanity relates to ecological and other crises – and what solutions are being proposed.

Ocean and sand

Anthropocene, Capitalocene and other Terms

In what age are we living?

Technically, we are currently living in the Holocene epoch, but other terms are being suggested that are meant to capture the impact of humanity on nature (Anthropocene) and the origins of environmental crises better (Capitalocene).

Anthropocene’– the age of human (Crutzen and Stoermer, 2000)

Capitalocene‘ – the age of capital (Haraway, 2015; Moore, 2017)

Sand and ocean

Climate Change and Climate Justice

What is climate change, and how does it relate to society?

Climate change might sounds like a predominantly environmental issue.

However, climate change is also heavily related to society. Other terms such as ‘Climate Justice’ aim to underline the connection of climate to people.

Clear water at the beach

Sustainability: Social, environmental, economic, cultural, …

What does sustainability entail?

Even though sustainability seems like a buzzword of recent years, the concepts reaches back hundreds, even thousands of years.

In its essence, sustainability is about the ability to sustain; which can be related to nature, society, economy, culture and other systems.

In 2015, all United Nations Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Sustainability can be misunderstood (e.g. primarily understanding it as environmentally related) and misused (e.g. greenwashing).


There are numerous research fields within the Social Sciences and Humanities. The Netherlands Organization of Scientific Research includes, among others, the following: art, philosophy, history, sociology, law, business, economics, literature.

Different research fields can have both distinct and at times overlapping imaginaries of sustainability.

For example, I have a background in Business, Sociology and Art. While Business, Sociology and Art deal with humanity and nature in some way, they can have some similar and some different foci and understandings of how humans and nature relate, the origins of ecological and social crises and how to address them.

Shedding light on these approaches allows us to better understand where research fields differ and overlap. It can also show the value, further potential and also the challenges of transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary research.

In the following, you can find a preliminary short overview of the perspectives on nature and humanity from Business, Economics, Management, Sociology of Arts & Culture and the Environmental Humanities.

Business and Economics – Reforming Capitalism?

Some of the concepts used in business and economics include: Circular Economy, Doughnut Economics, Systems Thinking, Triple Bottom Line, Triple Top Line. The Planetary Boundaries concept, developed by multiple scientists in 2009, is referred to and used as foundation in multiple recent scholarly works in Business and Economics, Management. A short list of some articles from business, economics, management can be found here.

Sociology of Arts & Culture

What is the role of art and culture in relation to sustainability? Aspects of social sustainability have been the focus within sociology (not necessarily under the term ‘social sustainability’). Environmental questions are gaining traction across scholarly fields, particularly since the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals. How are art and culture addressing sustainability? What impact do art and culture have on the environment? How are art and culture affected by social and environmental developments? In a new university course, we are looking closer at some of these questions, also considering concepts, such as Circular Economy, Doughnut Economics and Cradle to Cradle, some of which originated in the field of economics.

Environmental Humanities

The Environmental Humanities can re-frame environmental problems, such as climate change, as not merely environmental, but also human, social and cultural. The modes of inquiry from the Humanities can help in addressing problems that frame human-nature relations, such as intangibility of and alienation from environmental issues, scientific framing, negative framing and separation of ‘environment’. Reflections on how humans and nature relate include concepts such as interspecies relationships, entanglements, mesh between human and nature, countering notions of human/nature dualism, human control of nature and nature as something external. Such deep understandings allow a better understanding about how social and ecological crises originate.

Not all those who wander are lost.


About Me

I am PhD candidate at Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication at Erasmus University, Rotterdam, and dedicated to creative projects.

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