The Nelson Institute's Center for Culture, History, and Environment (CHE) draws together faculty, staff, graduate students, and others from a wide array of disciplines in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences to investigate environmental and cultural change in the full sweep of human history.

Latest News

Finding the Words: Erstwhile Blog editor Julia Frankenbach reflects on the CHE Symposium weekend

CU-Boulder graduate student and Erstwhile blog editor Julia Frankenbach was one of the many attendees at the March 4-6, 2016 CHE Graduate Symposium "E is for Environment: New Vocabularies for the Past, Present, and Future." In addition to describing the rich set of topics discussed at weekend paper workshops, panel presentations, and keynote from Dr. Kate Brown of University of Maryland-Baltimore County, Frankenbach remarks that the weekend was "a humbling place to be, think, and rejuvenate." But what new questions can one think on when, as Frankenbach aptly observes, environment's "capaciousness" as a term tends towards abstraction? Read more of her reflections and takeaways from the weekend in the article she has authored for Erstwhile.

Grads, faculty gather at UW to celebrate Gaylord Nelson's centennial at the 9th Annual CHE Graduate Symposium

Graduate students and faculty representing 13 different institutions from the US and Canada gathered in Madison for a rich weekend of conversation, debate, and service learning in celebration of Gaylord Nelson's centennial. The group, participants in the CHE Graduate Symposium, worked towards building a "new vocabulary" for the environment, a theme created by conference co-organizers and CHE associates Brian Hamilton and Kate Wersan.

Want to learn more?

Read an interview with Symposium participant Dr. Scott Kirsch. 

Peruse the full Symposium schedule and list of participants.

Read an interview with Symposium organizers Brian Hamilton and Kate Wersan.


Thanks to our many conference participants for joining us, and congratulations to the many CHE volunteers involved in hosting the event! 

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Upcoming Events

Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape
Thursday, November 3, 7:00 PM, Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, H.F. DeLuca Forum
Professor of environmental studies and geology at Mount Holyoke College, Lauret Edith Savoy’s life and work draw from her need to put the eroded world into language, to remember fragmented pasts into present. A woman of African American, Euro-American, and Native American heritage, she explores the stories we tell of the American land’s origins—and the stories we tell of ourselves in this land. For her, writing of the complex intertwinings of natural and cultural histories is a way of seeking home among the ruins and shards that surround us all. Lauret’s latest book Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape (Counterpoint Press), won the 2016 American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation, was a finalist for the 2016 PEN American Open Book Award and Phillis Wheatley Book Award, and was shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing.

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