Universiteit Leiden

nl en


Environmental Humanities LU: Species literacy and the cultural portrayal of animal biodiversity

Friday 2 December 2022
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden

Environmental Humanities LU is a new initiative started by members of LUCAS and LUC who are interested in environmental history, ecocriticism, animal studies and eco-art. One of our activities is the organization of talks and workshops on the role of the humanities in the current climate and biodiversity crisis. 

Our first guest speaker will be Michiel Hooykaas from the Naturalis Biodiversity Centre and the Institute of Institute of Biology at Leiden University. He will present his work on animals in children’s literature and the impact of their portrayal on the awareness of biodiversity and “species literacy” of children and adults. 

We are looking forward to seeing you on 2 December 2022, 16.00-18.00, in Lipsius building (Cleveringaplaats 1), room 148.


While nature is under increasing pressure and biodiversity is declining rapidly, people face an 'extinction of experience'. Direct experiences with nature are diminishing, and people seem to become estranged from the animals and plants that surround them. Many people, children especially, can be regarded as ‘species illiterate’. At the same time, we are constantly exposed to cultural representations of animals that provide us with opportunities to experience the natural world indirectly. For example, children come across animals through picture books and the clothes they wear. Could this compensate for the decline in direct experience with nature? In my research I have studied people’s perception of animal biodiversity and the image that cultural products present of animals, with the aim of establishing pathways to (re)connect people and nature.

This website uses cookies.  More information.