Experimental Ecologies

Experimental Ecologies invites the investigation and recalibration of human-environment relations.

Ecology (Oikos-ology, the study of our home) is traditionally a biological science. But the planetary biosphere is now irrevocably integrated with the technosphere: We need more than biological science to understand our relationships with our planetary home. For example, we now recognise that data is necessary but not sufficient to address environmental crises: we need data-based evidence, but we need to engage all our senses, we need stories, imagination and renewed friendships too. At root, we need new ways to understand and mend human-environment relations.

Experimental Ecologies aims to develop a post-disciplinary research space where arts and humanities, natural and computational sciences, traditional indigenous knowledge and everyday local experiences have an equal footing in addressing key environmental issues at human-environment interfaces.

Experimental Ecologies reflects ongoing and emerging research, pedagogic, strategic and engagement activities with roots in the Sussex Humanities Lab, and welcomes collaboration across and beyond the University of Sussex. Current activities and interests include:

Transdisciplinary Acoustic Ecologies (ecolistening.org), led by Alice Eldridge, innovates and applies new methods to listen to the world around us toward ecosystem monitoring and equitable governance. Acoustic Ecology is the study of organism-environment interactions mediated by sound. Transdisciplinary Acoustic Ecology integrates methods and concepts from music and arts,  conservation, computing, social science and anthropology with everyday listening and indigenous traditional knowledge, to address key conservation and climate justice issues. We carry out experimental and applied research which asks questions such as: What can we learn about the ecological status of the natural environment through human and machine listening? What can we learn about human-environment values by listening to what people hear?  

Ludic Ecologies, led by Jo Walton, explores histories and futures of nature and wellbeing through play and games. Rooted in arts and humanities approaches, and drawing on wide interdisciplinary expertise, Ludic Ecology asks: What different ways are there of being playful in nature, and how do they relate to our wider social and environmental wellbeing? What histories and politics underpin those playful practices? How might play and creativity help us to communicate better, and to foster more participatory cultures around climate change and the many difficult decisions that are arising from it? 

Greening DH. Alongside research, we are concerned with improving the environmental impact of research in the Digital Humanities and related disciplines through symposia and other activities. Our 2021 report Digital Humanities and the Climate Crisis underlined the importance of climate and environment issues to Digital Humanities researchers, and we believe it’s vital to work collaboratively with colleagues across the sector, building solidarity and sharing best practice. SHL’s Environmental Strategy contains more information about our philosophy and approach, as well some areas where we are especially interested in collaborating.

If you are interested in this area and would like to contribute please contactAlice Eldridge 


Sussex Humanities Lab, SILVERSTONE SB211, Arts Road, Falmer, East Sussex, BN1 9RG

email: shl@sussex.ac.uk