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Visiting professor's research inspires others

December 17, 2018

Professor Ju Zhang is a visiting scholar from China Women’s University. During her one-year visit to IEESC she is working on several projects that explore environmental issues and themes in English and Chinese novels.

Professor Zhang’s expertise is in environmental literature. Although literature and environment do not immediately come to mind when one considers environmental studies, her approach is interdisciplinary. Professor Zhang says that environmental literature complements environmental studies, whatever the discipline. “The fact is whoever you are, an engineer or a literary critic, we, as human beings, face the same environmental crises: acid rain, air pollution, rain forest destruction, species extinction, global warming, nuclear waste, and toxic waste contamination, to name but a few. With joint efforts, literary and environmental studies broaden each other’s views and examine a wide variety of ways to treat the world around us.”

Her systematic approach of analyzing the environment in modern fiction helps her to better understand the natural world and humans’ relationships to it. This includes the role of literature in how individuals perceive and conceptualize nature, concerns about declining urban environments, and the role of risk management in environmental problems and extreme weather events. Through Professor Zhang’s collaborations at IEESC so far, her research interests have expanded and deepened in their process and approach. At the same time, Professor Zhang’s knowledge and ideas have inspired IEESC’s students and researchers in their approach to solving science and engineering problems.

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