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.

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CHE Associates Highlight Research at American Society for Environmental History Annual Meeting

The American Society for Environmental History (ASEH) will hold its annual meeting in Chicago at the Drake Hotel on March 29-April 2, and many members of the CHE community are preparing to make the trip.


The work of CHE faculty associates will be highlighted. William Cronon will reflect on the 25th anniversary of his book Nature's Metropolis at Saturday evening's plenary. Gregg Mitman's film The Land Beneath Our Feet will be screened and the subject of a roundtable discussion on Thursday afternoon, and Mitman will serve as commentator for the panel "Scale and Circulation: Bringing History and Geography Together in Global Environmental Histories of Empire." CHE faculty associate, Rick Keyser will be joined by CHE alum Alexander Olson on the panel "Conservation in Historical and Comparative Perspective: Woodlands in Europe."


Three CHE graduate associates are presenting their research. Spring Greeney will deliver the paper "What Clean Should Smell Like: Body Work, Laundry, and the Politics of Nature in the US, 1931-1947"; Rachel Gross will speak on "Layering for Cold and the M-1943 Field Jacket: How American Military Studies of Climates and Bodies Shaped Popular Style”; and Kate Wersan will present "Mechanical Gardeners and Scientific Sailors: Standardizing Organic Time on Land and Sea, 1750-1830."


Community associates Andy Bruno, Jim Feldman, Curt Meine, and Lisa Ruth Rand also will be participating, as will two of our associates-at-large (Wilko Graf von Hardenberg  and Kristoffer Whitney). Several CHE alums will also be in attendance, including Andrew Case, Michael Dockry, and Anna Zeide.


Lastly, members of the Edge Effects editorial board will be set up in the exhibit area (Gold Coast Room) and look forward to chatting with conference attendees about CHE's digital magazine.


For times and locations of these presentations, visit the ASEH conference program.

Announcing the Edge Effects Podcast

CHE’s digital magazine, Edge Effects, has launched a podcast series of interviews with scholars, scientists, and artists who engage with questions of environmental and cultural change. Enjoy wide-ranging conversations with Carolyn Finney (Black Faces, White Spaces) and Lauret Savoy (Trace). Learn about the path-breaking research of CHE alumni Dawn Biehler (Pests in the City) and Andrew Stuhl (Unfreezing the Arctic).  Several more exciting episodes are forthcoming in 2017, including William Cronon's reflection on the 25th anniversary of his book Nature’s Metropolis; Adam Mandelman will talk law and politics in the Anthropocene with Jedediah Purdy (After Nature); and Edge Effects editor Helen Bullard will host a conversation with glass artist Anna Lehner about her current work exploring endangered languages.

Get the podcast sent straight to your mobile device or computer by subscribing through the iTunes store. You can also find episodes on Google Play, Stitcher, and TuneIn, or stream or download directly on the Edge Effects website.

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Upcoming Events

William deBuys on "Not Shutting Down: Staying Engaged in an Era of Environmental Loss"
Wednesday, April 5, 12:00 PM, Helen C. White, 7191
Terra Incognita Art Series Event
Can the beauty of Earth re-inspire us even in the most trying times? Environmental historians (and journalists) face the challenge of telling stories that are true (and therefore too often lack happy endings) and yet do not cause our audiences to go numb and stop listening. After writing recent books on climate change and extinction, William deBuys will speak about his efforts to grapple with these dilemmas and share his (admittedly provisional) answers. deBuys is the author of eight books including The Last Unicorn: A Search for One of Earth’s Rarest Creatures (listed by the Christian Science Monitor as one of the ten best non-fiction books of 2015), A Great Aridness: Climate Change and the Future of the American West (2011), The Walk (2008), Seeing Things Whole: The Essential John Wesley Powell (2001), Salt Dreams (1999), River of Traps (a 1991 Pulitzer finalist,) and Enchantment and Exploitation (1985). Please join us for a talk and conversation aimed at thinking through these topics together.

Hope and Renewal in the Age of Apocalypse
Tuesday, April 18, 8:00 AM, Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center
11th Annual Nelson Institute Earth Day Conference
Post-apocalyptic films and books are more popular than ever, with recent titles like The Hunger Games, The Passage, Snowpiercer and The Walking Dead joining a rapidly growing list. What drives our fascination with the end of the world? Can this pop-culture phenomenon help us understand today's environmental challenges and stimulate ideas to build a just, secure and sustainable future? Hope and Renewal in the Age of Apocalypse features an exciting line-up of provocative authors, leading thinkers and creative problem solvers to explore these questions. Join us for a day of fresh ideas about climate change, wildlife conservation, economic growth, social justice and other challenges that drive our anxieties and test our resolve.

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