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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

CHE Graduate Associate Marcos Colón wins international recognition for documentary film "Beyond Fordlândia”

Written and directed by CHE Graduate Associate Marcos Colón, documentary film "Beyond Fordlândia" (2017, 75 min) presents an environmental account of Henry Ford’s Amazon experience decades after its failure. The story addressed by the film begins in 1927, when the Ford Motor Company attempted to establish rubber plantations on the Tapajós River, a primary tributary of the Amazon. This film addresses the recent transition from failed rubber to successful soybean cultivation for export, and its implication for land usage. "Beyond Fordlândia" has been recognized with the best feature-length documentary award from the Cabo Verde International Film Festival, an Award of Excellence from Impact Docs, and the WWF award for Best Awareness-Raising Documentary.


This film was made with support from the Center for Culture, History, and Environment, the Nelson Institute, and the Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies Program at the Unversity of Wisconsin-Madison. Visit the Beyond Fordlândia website for screening schedule and additional features.

Read and Listen: Edge Effects Digital Magazine and Podcast

Edge Effects, CHE's Digital Magazine, has a lineup of exciting original essays, commentary, and podcasts this fall. Enjoy recent recommendations of environmental books for the classroom , learn why Americans recycle, and listen to inspiring conversations with podcast guests including Anna Tsing and Louis Warren.  Coming soon Jesse Gant will interview Richard White about his new book on Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, Faron Levesque will give a take on the queer geography of Stranger Things, and Kevin Walters will explore the origins of the Wisconsin Idea. 


Find all content on the Edge Effects  website. 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

Chat & Chew with Brian Holmes
Friday, April 27, 3:30 PM, University Club, 313
Join us for a conversation with Brian Holmes to learn about his work, think about mapping, and share knowledge about the Kickapoo Valley. Brian will also present April 23rd 1:45-3:00 pm on a panel "Let’s Talk About the Environment: Storytelling, Aesthetics, and the Politics of Transformation" at the Nelson Institute's Earth Day Event. Brian Holmes is an essayist, researcher, and artist-cartographer. Over the last twenty years, his essays on art and political economy have been distributed, translated and read around the world. Brian is a member of the groups Deep Time Chicago and Compass and a collaborator of Hau der Kulturen dr Wel, Berlin, for their Anthropocene Curriculum program. His current work can also be viewed at Ecotopia Today (

Place-Based Workshop 2018
Monday, May 14, 8:00 AM, *, *
Our annual Place-Based Workshop, a multi-day program involving field trips and overnight stays, will be held on the theme "Animating the Landscape" in 2018. This workshop will run May 14-18, and is open to CHE Associates. For more information about getting involved in the planning of this workshop, please see our Place-Based Workshop page.

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