William Cronon outdoor lecture

People associated with CHE come from many intellectual backgrounds: history and botany, landscape architecture and English literature, geography and science studies, anthropology and limnology, and many other fields besides. Without CHE, many of us would never even find each other on this vast campus, let alone meet, learn from each other, and become friends and colleagues.

CHE-Space: a shared intellectual context in which conversations across disciplinary boundaries are eagerly sought and shared.

Although most of us are firmly grounded in one or more disciplinary traditions, we are all persuaded that no one discipline by itself can hope to solve the myriad puzzles of how and why people relate to, use, change, and value the world around them as they do. We all share an interest in the environmental past, and in that sense we all practice history even though most of us are not formally trained in the academic discipline of history. Interdisciplinary inquiry and conversation are thus central to what we sometimes half-jokingly refer to as "CHE-space."

CHE serves as the main home at UW-Madison for the "environmental humanities" - fields that concern themselves not just with the mechanisms of environmental change, but with its human meanings. But the humanities have no monopoly on the claim that human culture - including ideas, behaviors, perceptions and values - matter in understanding anthropogenic environmental change. That is why CHE welcomes natural and social scientists as eagerly as it does humanities scholars: we all need each other to do this complicated and fascinating work.

Most of all, though, CHE is a community of people who share intellectual passions and enjoy each other's companies. If it sounds like the kind of community you're seeking, please come check it out!

What does CHE do?

We host a biweekly gathering - the CHE Environmental History Colloquium - where we share and talk about each other's work and discuss issues of common interest, all broadly connected to past environmental change in its human cultural contexts.

We sponsor lectures, seminars, and other events on campus exploring humanistic perspectives on environmental change.

meeting of people at a table

We offer the CHE Graduate Certificate and PhD Minor, which grad students can use to train themselves in interdisciplinary approaches to understanding past environmental change.

To support our graduate training, we offer a CHE Methods Seminar each spring.

Each May, we hold a "Place-Based Workshop" - usually a bus trip of several days - in which a group of faculty and graduate students from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds learn from each other in understanding how landscapes and places have been shaped by human beliefs, ideas, and needs.

Our signature biennial film festival, Tales from Planet Earth, showcases environmental films from around the world on the belief issues don't move people, stories do! To that end, we link compelling narratives of films to the work of scholars in the academy and to the engagement efforts of community partners working for environmental and social justice in Wisconsin.

We get together for parties and picnics and potlucks to encourage genuine friendship and to enjoy each other's company.

The stuff we do is limited only by our imaginations - and yours if you join us!

Where is CHE?

CHE's home is in the Bradley Memorial Building, but CHE's associates and faculty come from all corners of the UW campus and community.

How can you get involved in CHE?

Visit our Get Involved with CHE page to learn more about how you can participate in CHE and become a member yourself.