Working Groups

Earth and Environmental Sciences

The Earth and Environmental Sciences Working Group explores the interactions between humans and their environments from a variety of different disciplinary perspectives in the humanities and social sciences. Meetings are held monthly to discuss a colleague’s work in progress or to discuss readings that are of particular interest to participants.

Meetings are usually held at the Consortium offices in Philadelphia from 6:00 to 7:30 on first Wednesdays. Scholars located anywhere can also participate online.

To join this working group, click "Request group membership" at right. You will receive instructions for participating online or in person.

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  • Eve Buckley

    Eve Buckley is Associate Professor of History at University of Delaware, where she studies the history of science, technology, public health and environment in modern Latin America, particularly Brazil. She is interested in the use of technology to address problems of poverty and underdevelopment and is the author of Technocrats and the Politics of Drought and Development in Twentieth-Century Brazil (University of North Carolina Press, 2017).

     

  • Frederick Davis

    Frederick Rowe Davis is Professor of History and the R. Mark Lubbers Chair in the History of Science in the Department of History at Purdue University. His research interests lie at the intersection of the history of earth and environmental sciences, environmental health, and environmental history. He recently published Banned: A History of Pesticides and the Science of Toxicology (Yale 2014).

     

  • Jeremy Vetter

    Jeremy Vetter is Associate Professor of History at the University of Arizona. His research is at the intersection of environmental history and the history of science and technology in the American West. He is the author of Field Life: Science in the American West during the Railroad Era (Pittsburgh, 2016).

     

Upcoming Meetings (all times Eastern)

  • Wednesday, February 6, 2019 - 6:00pm

    TBA

  • Wednesday, March 6, 2019 - 6:00pm

    TBA

  • Wednesday, April 3, 2019 - 6:00pm

    TBA

  • Wednesday, May 1, 2019 - 6:00pm

    TBA

Past Meetings

  • December 5, 2018

    We will discuss the recent Osiris volume on "Science and Capitalism" focusing especially on these two articles related to the earth and environmental sciences:
     
    Pawley, Emily. "Feeding Desire: Generative Environments, Meat Markets, and the Management of Sheep Intercourse in Great Britain, 1700-1750," Osiris 33 (2018): 47-62.
     
    Lucier, Paul. "Comstock Capitalism: The Law, the Lode, and the Science." Osiris 33 (2018): 210-231.
     
    You are also encouraged to read the introduction by the editors, and you are invited to browse other articles in the volume, some of which are by authors who have worked in the history of earth and environmental sciences.

  • November 7, 2018

    For our Nov. 7 conversation we will discuss selections (the Intro and ch. 3 & 7) from the recently published book, A Primer for Teaching Environmental History: Ten Design Principles (Durham: Duke University Press, 2018), with the co-authors, Emily Wakild and Michelle Berry. Please bring your thoughts and questions about designing and teaching environmental history courses to this discussion.

  • October 3, 2018

    We will discuss selections from two related and recently published books on the history of movement and exchange in the environmental sciences (agricultural science and tropical biology) between the United States and Latin America/Caribbean, by Tore Olsson and Megan Raby:
     
    Tore Olsson, Agrarian Crossings: Reformers and the Remaking of the U.S. and Mexican Countryside (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017), intro and chapter 4 (and 5 if you have extra time)
     
    Megan Raby, American Tropics: The Caribbean Roots of Biodiversity Science (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2017), intro and chapter 1, available at https://uncpress.flexpub.com/preview/american-tropics
     
    The two authors will open the discussion with comments on each other's books.

  • May 2, 2018

    We will discuss selections from two related and recently published books on the history of science, technology, and the environment in Latin America:
     
    Buckley, Eve E. Technocrats and the Politics of Drought and Development in Twentieth-Century Brazil. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2017. (Intro and ch. 5)
     
    Wolfe, Mikael D. Watering the Revolution: An Environmental and Technological History of Agrarian Reform in Mexico.  Durham: Duke University Press, 2017. (Intro and ch. 4)
     
    The two authors will open the discussion with comments on each other's books.
     
    Note: This is the discussion that was postponed from last December due to technical difficulties.

     

  • April 4, 2018

    Draft chapter by Gabriel Henderson (American Institute of Physics),
    "Global 2000 and the Politics of Neo-Malthusian Alarm, 1972-1984"
    which examines the influential "Global 2000" report on environmental policy, produced during the Carter Administration, along with the primary source text itself.

  • March 7, 2018

    Selections from two related and recently published books on the history of chemicals, agriculture, and the environment:

    Vail, David D. Chemical Lands: Pesticides, Aerial Spraying, and Health in North America's Grasslands since 1945. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2018.

    Davis, Frederick R. Banned: A History of Pesticides and the Science of Toxicology.  New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014.

    The two authors opened the discussion with comments on each other's books.

  • February 7, 2018

    We discussed the recent Osiris volume on "Data Histories" focusing especially on these two articles related to the earth and environmental sciences:
     
    Benson, Etienne. "A Centrifuge of Calculation: Managing Data and Enthusiasm in Early Twentieth-Century Bird Banding," Osiris 32 (2017), 286-306.
     
    Aronova, Elena. "Geophysical Datascapes of the Cold War: Politics and Practices of the World Data Centers in the 1950s and 1960s." Osiris 32 (2017): 307-327.
     
    Elena and Etienne both presented to open the discussion by providing some background on how the volume came together, what they see as the key contributions and debates it offers, and how their own articles connect those issues to the history of the earth and environmental sciences.
     
    Also recommended are the introduction by the editors, which is included in the file below, and other articles in the volume, such as those by Staffan Mu:ller-Wille (on natural history) and David Sepkoski (on paleontology).

  • December 6, 2017

    POSTPONED until spring due to technical difficulties
    We will discuss selections from two related and recently published books on the history of science, technology, and the environment in Latin America:

    Buckley, Eve E. Technocrats and the Politics of Drought and Development in Twentieth-Century Brazil. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2017. (Intro and ch. 5)

    Wolfe, Mikael D. Watering the Revolution: An Environmental and Technological History of Agrarian Reform in Mexico.  Durham: Duke University Press, 2017. (Intro and ch. 4)

    The two authors will open the discussion with comments on each other's books.

  • November 1, 2017

    We discussed two recently published papers on the history of climate change, which take very different approaches to the topic, with discussion opened by James Bergman:
    Supran, Geoffrey, and Naomi Oreskes. "Assessing Exxonmobil's Climate Change Communications (1977-2014)." Environmental Research Letters 12 (2017).
    Coen, Deborah R. "Big Is a Thing of the Past: Climate Change and Methodology in the History of Ideas." Journal of the History of Ideas 77 (2016): 305-21.
     

  • October 4, 2017

    We will discuss two thematically related papers: a work in progress by Frank Zelko (University of Vermont, who will be present with us via teleconference), "Optimizing Nature: Invoking the ‘Natural’ in the Struggle over Water Fluoridation" and a recently published article by Linda Nash, "From Safety to Risk: The Cold War Contexts of American Environmental Policy," Journal of Policy History 29 (2017): 1-33.