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Grief and hope in a time of environmental loss

How to deal with losing more-than-human species

Admission:  B2, B3 and (Pre-)Master’s students
Number of students: 10-15 students from all faculties
Time frame: 
17 April - 5 June
 5 evening meetings, 1 outdoor excursion
Study load:  approximately 3-4 hours per week
Course coordinator: Dr. Riyan van den Born & Helen Verploegen
Study costs: None
Application deadline: February 13

An ever-increasing number of species is at risk of endangerment and extinction. In this epoch of the Anthropocene, humans have caused habitat destruction, pollution, or changing climates at the costs of many other species. This environmental loss is a concern of many and knowledge about this loss is growing every day. People take the streets and inspiring initiatives start every day.

Nevertheless, emotional outpour over this loss in society, media or academia is still very limited. To grief or mourn for losses beyond the human is difficult and asks for a different outlook on our place in the world and our relationships with those we share this world with. This grief is not only about anger, sadness and fear, but also about love, appreciation and hope. What could it bring to allow these feelings and emotions for this more-than-human loss?

(How) can the often negatively viewed emotions and feelings associated with grief bring something positive? Wat does ecological grief or mourning look like? What keeps us from publicly mourning for these losses and how could this be motivated? These are complex questions that have to do with responsibility, anticipation and how humans relate to the world around them. A growing number of scholars from a variety of disciplines (e.g. environmental humanities, psychology, sociology or ecology) are trying to answer these questions.

During this honours lab we will take an interdisciplinary approach to explore these questions and proposed answers. Through lectures, readings, discussions and excursions we will together come to understand what grieving or mourning for lost species could look like and what it can offer you and (more-than-human) others to bring about positive change.  At the end of the programme you will share your own (or someone else’s) experience with more-than-human grief in a chosen creative form (e.g. essay, artwork, video).

Preliminary pogramme
(all evenings 19:00u – 21:00u)
Monday 17th April – Lecture and discussion

[Break] (24 April – 5 May)

Monday 8th May – Readings and discussion

Monday 15th May – Reading and discussion

Monday 22nd of May – Guest lecture and discussion

Week of 29th of May (date to be discussed) – Outdoor excursion
and feedback on assignment during office hours

Monday 5th of June – Presentation/exhibition of (creative) assignment


You can apply for this honours lab via this form. The application deadline is February 13, 2023. Please include your CV and a motivation letter (of maximum 1 page) for the honours lab in your application.

If you have any questions, you can contact Floor Binkhorst (floor.binkhorst@ru.nl) or visit the information session 9 February from 12.30-13.15.