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The Human Environment



This selection of photographs presents a variety of perspectives on the complex interactions between humans and the environment. 

Luke Swank

The exhibition’s title takes inspiration from the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, Sweden, the first global summit devoted to environmental issues. The tensions that surfaced at the conference—between promoting economic growth while protecting natural resources and addressing uneven impacts of development on communities around the world—continue to shape the environmental movement today.

We currently face multiple ecological challenges, including pollution, major loss of biodiversity, resource depletion, accelerating climate change, and the COVID-19 pandemic. The photographs here ask us to consider the human environment across time periods and regions. Modern agricultural practices and large-scale infrastructure projects such as airports, dams, and mines have radically altered vast swaths of the Earth, while wars and severe climate events have displaced millions and disrupted the lives of even greater numbers. At the same time, scientists and activists have worked to preserve our natural heritage, protect vulnerable ecosystems, and promote environmental equity, which all give hope for the future.


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