Story+ Project

Beyond Despair: Narrating the Environment through the Humanities


Story+ | Beyond Despair: Narrating the Environment through the Humanities

As part of its larger public engagement initiative, the National Humanities Center (NHC) proposes the creation of an eight-episode podcast series that focuses on critical environmental issues and the role the humanities can play in understanding and galvanizing action. Members of the Story+ team are tasked with creatively engaging with this theme to create one or two proof-of-concept pilot(s) for the series by the end of the project. Possible areas of focus might include: the environmental impact of war, water use, human health and the environment, environmental justice, and changing politics around land ownership, stewardship, and conservation. Working closely with NHC staff and its leadership, undergraduate and graduate members of this Story+ team will be involved in all aspects of the project, from story conception to the production and distribution of the pilot episode(s). They will have access to a rich archive of NHC source materials and will be encouraged to source additional audio from local, national, and international voices to frame compelling podcast stories for the general public. Stories might focus on the global or the very local to explore how scientific and humanistic understandings of climate change can intersect to take on the challenge of addressing environmental challenges beyond simple narratives of inaction and despair. 

Team members should possess:

  • Strong analytical and critical thinking skills
  • An interest in understanding and explaining environmental topics
  • A passion for storytelling and a desire to craft excellent prose appropriate for audio production
  • A desire to engage and understand scholarly work and translate it into understandable narrative formats for broad audiences
  • Ability to visualize, plan, and implement creative projects, pulling together a range of content to tell a specific story in an interesting, engaging, and fun way
  • A nerdy and playful sensibility that will result in rich audio content with high production value 
  • General digital production skills, i.e., experience with podcast production, recording, scriptwriting, interviewing and oral history collection
  • A willingness to speak with scholars and members of the Center team to collect appropriate audio
  • Ability to work as part of a larger team in a highly motivated and self-driven environment
Project Sponsor(s): 

Tania Munz, Vice President, Scholarly Programs, National Humanities Center

Graduate Mentor(s): 

Kathleen Burns, PhD Candidate


Margot Armbruster, Sara Heilman, Anna He


The students created a pilot episode of an upcoming and ongoing series of Environmental Humanities podcasts in conjunction with the National Humanities Center's Beyond Despair project.

Subhankar Banerjee photo by Didier de Fays. National Humanities Center.


  • Public Humanities
  • Oral History