History of Earth and Environmental Sciences

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Upcoming Meetings

There are no currently scheduled upcoming events.

Past Meetings

  • 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. 

  • January 26, 2021

    We will discuss selections from two related and recently or soon-to-be published books:
    Jacob Darwin Hamblin, The Wretched Atom: America's Global Gamble with Peaceful Nuclear Technology (New York: Oxford Universty Press, 2021), introduction and chapter 5. (PDF is available in the restricted login area for group members)
    Christine Keiner, Deep Cut: Science, Power, and the Unbuilt Interoceanic Canal (Athens: University of Georgia Press Press, 2020), introduction and chapter 4. Please see the following open access link to read the book: https://archive.org/details/isbn_9780820358635

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

  • November 24, 2020

    We will discuss selections from two related and recently published books in the history of food, agriculture, environment, and science:
    Benjamin R. Cohen, Pure Adulteration: Cheating on Nature in the Age of Manufactured Food (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2020), prologue and chapter 4.
    Stuart McCook, Coffee Is Not Forever: A Global History of the Coffee Leaf Rust (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2019), introduction and chapter 5.
    The two authors will open the discussion with comments on each other's books.

  • October 27, 2020

    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:
    Emily M. Kern, "Archaeology Enters the 'Atomic Age': A Short History of Radiocarbon, 1946-1960," British Journal for the History of Science 53, no. 2 (June 2020).
    During our gathering, we will also 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.

  • September 29, 2020

    Group Building and Extended Introductions. For our opening meeting of this academic year, instead of a typical workshop or presentation, we will try something new, to help everyone become better acquainted with one another: we invite all participants who attend to give an extended introduction of themselves along with a brief (1-2 minute) elevator pitch of a research project they are working on, followed by a question or two after each one from someone else who is there.

  • April 28, 2020

    We will discuss a chapter in progress by Aaron Thomas of Mississippi State University drawn from his dissertation titled "Controlling Christmas: An Environmental History of Natural and Artificial Christmas Trees." 

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).


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