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The Humanities Program

Charlotte Burnod

Major(s): Humanities

Hometown: Houston, TX

Activities: Running, cooking, Humanities Student Council, FIG mentor

Fun facts: I speak three and a half languages, live in a housing co-op, and have run three half-marathons

Why the Humanities Program?

I started at UT as a Journalism major, and after a year realized I did not want to constrain myself within a single major and that I was interested in many different academic areas: geography, sustainability studies, food, politics, urban studies. Professor Robert Jensen encouraged me to apply to the Humanities Program, and I am grateful to take courses from so many different departments and be exposed me to many viewpoints and perspectives.

What led to your research interest?

I am writing my thesis on place making and human-nature relationships in community gardens. Specifically, I am looking at how community gardens are rooted in the experience of the everyday and can be read as vernacular landscapes, as well as the embodied, affective experiences that exist between gardeners, plants, and the landscape. Last year, I studied in Scotland and took a course on “Landscape and Culture” which exposed me to geographers and thinkers such as J. B. Jackson, Nigel Thrift, John Wylie, and Tim Ingold, which have provided me with much of the theoretical framework for my thesis. I’ve always been interested in food and the environment behind it since a young age (especially after reading Chew on This in middle school). During my sophomore year, I had a plot at Concho Community Garden and learned to grow organic vegetables, which was a very humbling experience. Specific courses that have led me to this research interest include “World Food System” with Raj Patel, “Environmental Ethics” with Sahotra Sarkar, “Politics of Food in Latin America” with Pilar Zazueta, and “Exploring Food and Urban Change” with Kevin Thomas and Naya Jones. 

How has the Humanities Program contributed to your experience at UT?

I enjoy being part of a small community of enthusiastic and curious peers with diverse interests and perspectives. Everyone’s enthusiasm and passion for their Humanities contract is contagious.  Because of the flexibility of the major, and scholarships I received through the Humanities Program, I was able to study at the University of Glasgow for two semesters, which, at the risk of sounding cliche, was a life-changing experience. I also enjoy the biweekly senior thesis meetings, facilitating the Environment, Science & Technology mentoring pod, and last but not least, our advisor Linda is amazing!

What are your future plans?

I plan on working in the co-operative sector and doing my part to make the world more just through principles of sustainability and the sharing/solidarity economy. I am also interested in student affairs and teaching English abroad. At some point in my life, I’d love to open a Tex-Mex vegetarian fusion food truck.