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

Tackling Ebola on many fronts
Nelson Institute faculty affiliates Gregg Mitman, Richard Keller and Tony Goldberg are among a cohort of researchers and physicians in the UW-Madison Global Health Institute (GHI) community who have personally and professionally confronted the Ebola outbreak — and are looking for ways to avoid the next crisis. 
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Video: Ebola prompts interdisciplinary response at UW-Madison
Gregg Mitman was shooting a documentary in Liberia this summer when Ebola hit the headlines. Tony Goldberg has studied bats and the diseases they carry in Uganda. Back on campus, professors Mitman, Goldberg, and Alta Charo discuss how UW–Madison is involved in holistic, cross-disciplinary efforts to understand the Ebola crisis and propose solutions.  
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Upcoming Events

Colloquium: Garrett Dash Nelson, "In search of the 'unit landscape': planning, community, and territory in American history"
Wednesday, January 28, Bradley Memorial, 202/204
Our first Colloquium of 2015 will be led by Garrett Nelson. Here's how he describes the research that he'll share:

How do we define the edges of a "single” place? My dissertation follows four case studies in American history when reformers, politicians, and community planners tried to articulate new kinds of "unit landscapes” which sought to synchronize social, economic, ecological, and jurisdictional boundaries and create organically unified territories of human settlement on the land. By paying careful attention to the specific qualities of the "unit” as a geographic motif related to but ultimately independent of "scale,” I argue that the struggle to find an integral territorial wholeness—encompassing both social structure and environmental habitability—is part of a broader attempt to resolve the unstable paradox between unity and diversity in the modern world. To fully understand how these contestations have played out, we need to understand not only the changing material patterns of people-environment interactions which destabilized the unit landscapes of premodernity, but also the political commitments and social aspirations which led people to imagine new unit landscapes for the future.


Graduate Student Symposium
Saturday, February 7, Science Hall, 15
The annual CHE Graduate Student Symposium showcases graduate research across all disciplines. Featuring a keynote lecture on place-based education from Michael Goodwin of the Concord River Institute. For more information on submitting a paper or helping to plan the event, please see our Symposium page.


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