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.

  • 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 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. 


  • 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 author of Field Life: Science in the American West during the Railroad Era (Pittsburgh, 2016).


Upcoming Meetings (all times Eastern)

  • Wednesday, November 1, 2017 - 6:00pm

    We will discuss two recently published papers on the history of climate change, which take very different approaches to the topic:
    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.

  • Wednesday, December 6, 2017 - 6:00pm


  • Wednesday, February 7, 2018 - 6:00pm


  • Wednesday, March 7, 2018 - 6:00pm


  • Wednesday, April 4, 2018 - 6:00pm


  • Wednesday, May 2, 2018 - 6:00pm


Past Meetings

  • 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.

  • May 3, 2017

    Our theme will be Polar Science. Adrian Howkins (Colorado State University), author of Frozen Empires: An Environmental History of the Antarctic Peninsula (Oxford, 2016) and Andrew Stuhl (Bucknell University), author of Unfreezing the Arctic: Science, Colonialism, and the Transformation of Inuit Lands (Chicago, 2016) will open the discussion by commenting on each others' books.

  • April 11, 2017

    Note Special Day.

    Elaine LaFay, from the University of Pennsylvania, will present “’The slandered torrid zone’: Medicine, Botany, and the Imperial Vision of an American Tropics along the U.S. Gulf Coast, 1820 – 1840.”

  • March 1, 2017

    The group continued its discussion of climate history with:

    • Oreskes, Naomi, Erik M. Conway and Matthew Shindell. “From Chicken Little to Dr. Pangloss: William Nierenberg, Global Warming, and the Social Deconstruction of Scientific Knowledge.” Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences, 38 (1) (Winter 2008): 109-152.
    • Weart, Spencer. “The idea of anthropogenic global climate change in the 20th century.” Climate Change 1, (January/February 2010): 67-81.
    • Weart, Spencer. 2005. “Depicting Global Warming.” Environmental History 10 (October 2005): 770-75.

    Optional / Recommended:

    • Nierenberg, Nicolas, Walter R. Tschinkel and Victoria J. Tschinkel. “Early Climate Change Consensus at the National Academy: The Origins and Making of Changing Climate.” Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences 40(3) (Summer 2010): 318-349.
    • Lepore, Jill. “[Autumn of the Atom]: The Atomic Origins of Climate Science.” The New Yorker (January 30, 2017). New Yorker Online.
  • January 25, 2017

    Note Special Day. Discussion of the "virtual issue" on climate history recently published online by Environmental History. including articles by Lydia Barnett, "The Theology of Climate Change: Sin as Agency in the Enlightenment's Anthropocene" and Joshua P. Howe, "This Is Nature; This Is Un-Nature: Reading the Keeling Curve" along with any other articles that interest you

  • December 7, 2016

    Tiago Saraiva (Drexel University), “Frantz Fanon in LA: Cloning Oranges and American Democracy in the Global South.”

  • October 26, 2016

    Catherine Dunlop (Montana State University), author of Cartophilia: Maps and the Search for Identity in the French-German Borderland (Chicago, 2015) and Bill Rankin (Yale University), author of After the Map: Cartography, Navigation, and the Transformation of Territory in the Twentieth Century (Chicago, 2016) opened the discussion by commenting on each others' books.

  • October 5, 2016

    Abe Gibson of Arizona State introduced selections from his new book, Feral Animals in the American South, Cambridge University Press, 2016

  • April 6, 2016

    Members in the Philadelphia area were invited to attend a local screening of Peter Galison and Robb Moss's new film, Containment (2015), about nuclear waste sites and the challenge of communicating their danger to humanity 10,000 years in the future, followed by a discussion with Peter Galison: here.

  • March 2, 2016

    Elaine LaFay of the University of Pennsylvania introduced her paper "'On the Teeth of the Wind': Medical Meteorology and the American Empire Along the Antebellum U.S. Gulf Coast."

Group Membership