History of 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 the final Tuesday of the month. Scholars located anywhere can also participate online.

 

Please set your timezone at https://www.chstm.org/user

Consortium Respectful Behavior Policy

Participants at Consortium activities will treat each other with respect and consideration to create a collegial, inclusive, and professional environment that is free from any form of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation.

Participants will avoid any inappropriate actions or statements based on individual characteristics such as age, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, nationality, political affiliation, ability status, educational background, or any other characteristic protected by law. Disruptive or harassing behavior of any kind will not be tolerated. Harassment includes but is not limited to inappropriate or intimidating behavior and language, unwelcome jokes or comments, unwanted touching or attention, offensive images, photography without permission, and stalking.

Participants may send reports or concerns about violations of this policy to conduct@chstm.org.

Upcoming Meetings

There are no currently scheduled upcoming events.


Past Meetings

  • May 2, 2022

    We will discuss podcasting as a means of reaching wider audiences in the history of science and environmental history, drawing on the experiences of three podcasters, who have all agreed to join us for the conversation:
    Sky Johnston, 90 Second Narratives, https://skymichaeljohnston.com/90secnarratives
    Kate Carpenter, Drafting the Past, http://draftingthepast.com
    Sean Kheraj, Nature's Past, https://www.seankheraj.com/category/podcast, http://niche-canada.org/naturespast/


  • April 4, 2022

    Emily Pawley (Dickinson College) will discuss her recent alternative sabbatical leave projects that involves public facing work on connecting history with activism on climate change and racial justice, especially her work as part of the Environmental Historians Action Collaborative (EHAC).
     


  • March 7, 2022

    We will discuss two related items by Carlos Haag (PhD candidate at York University): a published paper, "The English Hunger for Desolate Places: The Royal Society Mato Grosso Expedition, 1967-1969," and a draft of another paper on the same topic, "The Royal Society of London Expedition to Brazil: Science and Empire in the Cold War (1967-1969)."


  • February 7, 2022

    We will discuss four articles from a forthcoming special forum in Environmental History (April 2022): 
    Germán Vergara & Emily Wakild, “Extinction and Its Interventions in the Americas” (forum introduction)
    Peter S. Alagona & Alexis M. Mychajliw, “Southern California's Three-Bear Shuffle: Survival, Extinction, and Recovery in an Urban Biodiversity Hotspot”
    Reinaldo Funes Monzote & Etiam A. Pérez Fleitas, "In Grave Danger: A Brief Environmental History of the Cuban Crocodile"
    Elizabeth Hennessy & James P. Gibbs, "When De-extinction Really Happens: The Revival of the Floreana Giant Tortoises in the Galapagos Archipelago"
    Two of the authors, Emily Wakild and Elizabeth Hennessy, are planning to join us for the discussion.


  • December 6, 2021

    We will discuss a new article that was awarded the Rainger prize (for early career scholarship in the earth and environmental sciences) at the recent History of Science Society virtual meeting:
     
    Whitney Barlow Robles, "The Rattlesnake and the Hibernaculum: Animals, Ignorance, and Extinction in the Early American Underworld," William and Mary Quarterly 78, no. 1 (January 2021): 3-44.
    The author will join us for the discussion of this prize-winning article, and we will also have the opportunity to discuss her noteworthy public/digital history work, including a recently launched digital exhibition that she created with some students at Dartmouth, The Kitchen in the Cabinet: Histories of Food and Science, which can be found at https://kitcheninthecabinet.com/.
     
    At the beginning of our gathering, we will also briefly hold the annual meeting of the Earth and Environment Forum of the History of Science Society, which has the same topical purview as this working group.


  • November 1, 2021

    We will discuss two articles from a recent special issue of Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences (vol. 50, nos. 1-2, 2020), which was a special double issue for the 50th anniversary of the journal:
     
    Matthias Dörries, “Hot Climate, Cold War”
     
    Melissa Charenko, “Reconstructing Climate: Paleoecology and the Limits of Prediction during the 1930s Dust Bowl”
     
    The first of these is a brief historiographical overview of the history of climate science that has been published in the journal, which has published several notable articles over the years. The second of these is a standard original research article, which just by coincidence happened to be published in the same issue of the journal. These articles will help us launch a discussion about the history of climate science as an example of a prominent topical subfield within the history of earth and environmental sciences that has great potential for engaging in wider public discourse and policy debates.
     
    I am pleased to say that the author of the second article, Melissa Charenko, who is now an assistant professor at Michigan State University, is planning to join us for the discussion.


  • October 4, 2021

    For our first session of the year, we will revisit the special focus section of Isis from 2005 on the Generalist Vision in the History of Science (vol. 96, no. 2, pp. 224-251), in order to open up a discussion of how well the contributors' call for scholarly work that speaks to a wider audience has been realized during the past 16 years, in the history of earth and environmental sciences. Participants should (re)read the introduction to the focus section by Rob Kohler, and are encouraged to (re)read the other three thought provoking and stimulating essays too, which are all relatively brief, by Paula Findlen, Steve Shapin, and David Kaiser. Each participant will then be invited to introduce themselves, and each attendee will be encouraged to highlight a work (article, book, etc.) by some other scholar in the history of the earth and environmental sciences during the past 16 years, which serves as a successful example of speaking to a wider (scholarly and/or public) audience beyond niche specialists. We will then use this opening discussion as a springboard for spending the rest of the year discussing the problem of how historians of earth and environmental sciences can address not only wider audiences within the scholarly community but also contribute to public engagement around pressing environmental crises such as climate change and biodiversity loss.


  • April 27, 2021

    Elena Aronova, assistant professor of history at the University of California, Santa Barbara, will present and discuss chapter 3, "Nikolai Vavilov, Genogeography, and History’s Past Future," as well as the introduction, from her new book, Scientific History: Experiments in History and Politics from the Bolshevik Revolution to the End of the Cold War (University of Chicago Press, 2021).


  • March 30, 2021

    Daniel Vandersommers, Assistant Professor of History at the University of Dayton, will present on the introduction and a selected chapter from his book manuscript: "Entangled Encounters at the National Zoo: Stories of Science, Culturre, and Environment." The manuscript is under contract with University Press of Kansas.


  • February 23, 2021

    Our next speaker will be David Munns, Associate Professor at John Jay College of the City University of New York. We will discuss the Introduction and Chapter 1 from his forthcoming book: David P.D. Munns and Käriin Nickelsen, "Far Beyond the Mood: A History of Life Support Systems in the Space Age." Pittsburgh: Unversity of Pittsburgh Press, 2021. 


Group Conveners

  • frdavis's picture

    Frederick Davis

    Frederick Rowe Davis is Professor and Head 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).

     

  • MarkHersey's picture

    Mark Hersey

    Mark Hersey is Associate Professor of History at Mississippi State University and co-editor of Environmental History. His research interests lie in the fields of environmental, rural, and agricultural history, with a particular emphasis on the American South, especially Alabama and Mississippi. He is the author of My Work Is That Of Conservation: An Environmental Biography of George Washington Carver.

     

  • jvetter's picture

    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).

     

284 Members