Studying “Green” in the Emerald Isle @UCC

Environmental Humanities in Ireland’s Green University: This programme introduces students to cultural, historical, and social contexts and perspectives key to investigating environmental issues and the influence of these contexts on developments in public policy, law, corporate policy, and cultural production. 

green flag IrelandUniversity College Cork (UCC) is Ireland’s first Green Campus and for the last two years has been ranked second greenest university in the world by the UI Green Metric World University Ranking. There is no other MA programme in Ireland, or in the UK, like this interdisciplinary programme.  There are a number of pressing questions this programme addresses, including the urgent need for an integrated response to the environmental crisis. Few social problems or political conflicts can be considered without taking into account the environmental dimension, especially the fact of diminishing resources along with the suffering, forced migration, and violent conflict these changing conditions give rise to. The humanities are central to understanding the issues at the core of such crises, including the ways in which the environment is represented and how the role of the human in nature has been theorized and understood. This programme would aim to equip students with a foundation in a range of cultural, historical, and social contexts and perspectives for investigating environmental issues and the influence of these contexts on developments in public policy, law, corporate policy, and cultural production.

The distinctive appeal of pursuing the study of Environmental Studies at UCC is the programme’s capstone core module which focuses on case studies drawn from Irish culture. The placement module also offers an enhanced Irish-specific experience, connecting the academic material to relevant initiatives and organisations at both a local and national level as well as an opportunity for real-world networking. There are a number of opportunities for ‘Green’ work experience in Cork, beginning with UCC where Stephan Koch in Buildings and Estates is spearheading a number of energy-saving initiatives. The Cork County Council has an ‘Environmental Awareness and Research Unit’; the Port of Cork has an Environmental Management System that produces an annual report; Cork City Council (which has recently inaugurated a successful bike-sharing scheme) and Cork County Council work together in supporting the Green Schools Environmental Education and Awards Programme. There are also a number of NGOs and businesses located in Cork regularly recognized by the annual national ‘Green Awards’.  The Clean Technology Centre in Cork runs a Green Hospitality Programme. The Evening Echo, the Cork Independent and the Southern Star regularly report on environmental issues, including features on weather events and tourism. This represents only some of the possibilities for placement.

The course is taught by a team of well-regarded scholars from the fields of English, Sociology, Geography, Planning, Philosophy, Art History, Archaeology, German, French, Architecture, Law, Digital Humanities, Italian, as well as Drama and Theatre Studies. There is also a lecture series featuring invited guest speakers, drawing from not only academia, but also featuring local professional and politicians engaged in environmental initiatives. The core seminar modules include ‘Traditions in Western Thought and Philosophy’, which  introduces students to the philosophical and interdisciplinary foundations of Environmental Humanities;  ‘Ecocritical Practice’, focusing on examples of Environmental Humanities in practice; ‘Animal Bodies, Human and Nonhuman’,  a sustained consideration of the representation of bodies, both human and nonhuman;  and ‘Space and Place in Irish Writing and Film’, which considers Irish cultural production in the context of ecocritical and geocritical analysis. Numerous electives are also offered from across the university.

Graduates of the course will be equipped to take positions in the public or private sphere in areas including education, media, public relations, policy making, and the heritage industry.

For further information, please contact Dr. Maureen O’Connor:


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