Announcing the creation of the Umwelt Center for Germanic Studies & Environmental Humanities

October 11, 2023

Announcing the creation of the Umwelt Center for Germanic Studies & Environmental Humanities

Image of frogs and tadpoles

The Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures at The Ohio State University is excited to announce the creation of the Umwelt Center for Germanic Studies and Environmental Humanities. Supported by a generous $500,000 seed grant, the Umwelt Center will become an international research center dedicated to exploring the intersections of Environmental Humanities with Germanic Studies, while forging connections to a variety of disciplines and perspectives. In addition to German, current affiliated faculty have expertise in Scandinavian languages, Yiddish, Afrikaans, and multilingualism.   

The Umwelt Center will host an international conference, produce a peer-reviewed yearbook, appoint an annual post-doctoral fellow, offer funding opportunities for research projects, host guest lecturers, provide stipends for graduate students pursuing internships in Environmental Humanities, and feature a graduate certificate program. Led by a steering committee comprised of Matthew Birkhold, Katra Byram, and May Mergenthaler, the Center will also launch community partnerships to bring together German Studies, Environmental Humanities, and local and global sustainability efforts.  

From April 12-14, 2024, the Center will host a Junior Scholars Workshop, open to untenured professors, advanced graduate students, post-doctoral scholars, and independent scholars working in the fields of Germanic Studies and Environmental Humanities. 

The German term Umwelt designates the world around an organism, the place where it lives, perceives, and acts. Even when organisms share a location or habitat, each may have its own Umwelt, a unique set of needs, experiences, and potentials. At a time of climate change and growing environmental threats, the Umwelt Center investigates how different cultural and natural environments overlap and interact in our shared world. 

In so doing, the Center helps fulfill the mission of the public research university: to provide a life-changing education to students from all backgrounds, advance the public good and engage the community, and serve as a laboratory for innovation. 

For more information about the Umwelt Center, the Junior Scholars Workshop, and the post-doctoral position, please visit  

We look forward to welcoming you at the Umwelt Center soon!