CFP: Applied Historical Methods for the Environment

Ryan Driskell Tate's picture

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August 15, 2021
Subject Fields: 
Environmental History / Studies, Geography, Social Sciences, British History / Studies, American History / Studies

Dear Colleague,

We hope that you can join us for the 2021-2022 monthly virtual workshop—Applied Historical Methods for the Environment.  Sponsored by the Consortium for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, the group will meet monthly to broadly explore the use of primary historical sources in studies of environmental economics, policy, law, and science.  

Please submit your original manuscripts or working papers to present for feedback by August 15

Paper and presentation submissions can be submitted at:

We are also open to proposed reading lists that feature secondary sources from environmental fields so long as you can obtain samples of cited primary historical sources from the archives for analysis.  All are welcome to join the conversation.  

Once you have joined the Workshop, you will be invited to register and set up a profile in order to attend virtual workshops and participate in a group message board. 


Questions can be sent to convener Amy Coombs, Social Science Teaching Fellow at The University of Chicago, Special thanks to Fredrik Albritton-Jonson at The University of Chicago. 

Please share this invitation with your colleagues. 

Applied Historical Methods for the Environment:  Today mathematicians, economists, and social scientists make regular use of historical sources: to estimate historical populations for studies of endangered species listings, trace energy demand, restore and preserve ecological features, debate climate impacts, and report trends in emissions, pollution, land conversion, and water use.  Yet historians too rarely engaged in these practical applications of their methods.  Our consortium will meet monthly to critique, explore, and develop methods for applying archival and collections research as well as historiographical analysis to projects in environmental policy, law, and economics. How can historians contribute a more robust and critical analysis of historical sources in order to forward major environmental debates?   We will explore the methods that historians can contribute to environmental problem solving and critique the limits of projects that rely on historical sources for data analysis.  We will question the role of historical methods in reproducing environmental narratives within the context of empirical, predictive, and mathematical methodologies.  Sessions will explore peer-reviewed publications to examine the diverse uses of historical sources for qualitative and quantitative research. Primary source analysis will focus on the historical manuscripts, rare books, data, and surveys used in peer-reviewed environmental publications and highlight the integration of archival and historical methods with digital humanities curation, data mining with R, and ArcGIS for spatial analysis.  Presentations of original environmental reconstructions, narrative analysis, designs, and data projects are also welcome.