2016-2017 Schedule

NOON - 1:00 PM

204 Bradley Memorial Hall
1225 Linden Avenue

Please note our location has changed for Spring 2017.


CHE Welcome Meeting
6191 Helen C. White Hall
600 North Park Street


Larry Nesper
"Allotting the Lake Superior mixed-bloods and capitalizing mining in the Penokees"


Steve Brick
"Getting to Zero: The Challenge of Squeezing the Carbon out of Global Electricity Systems"

November 3 (Thursday)

CHE Grads Sponsor
7191 Helen C. White
Lauret Savoy
"On the River's Back: Finding a History of Landscape and Mixed Heritage in the Chesapeake"


Anne Pringle
"Life and Death in a Petersham Cemetary: The Demography of Lichens"

November 30

Daniel Kleinman and Sainath Suryanarayanan
"Pollinating Collaboration, Gathering Complexity: Knowledge, Power, and Honey Bee Health"


Amy Stambach
"Below East African Glaciers: Nineteenth-century Explorer Accounts of Bees and Burial Grounds on Mount Kilimanjaro"

February 8

Ken Raffa
"Invasive Nonindigenous Insects and Pathogens In Forest Ecosystems: Causes, Consequences, and Choices"


CHE Grads Sponsor
"Standing Rock and the Politics of Hope"
Charles Carlin, Larry Nesper, Carl Sack

MARCH 10 (Friday)

Jed Purdy
"Law in the Conversation of Environmental Humanities"
7191 Helen C. White


William deBuys
"Not Shutting Down: Staying Engaged in an Era of Environmental Loss"
7191 Helen C. White


Curt Meine and Keefe Keeley
"The Driftless Reader: Exploring a Literature of Place"

April 26

CHE Associates Event
6191 Helen C. White

*Dates, speakers, and titles subject to change as the year moves forward and we add special events.


people in a meeting

The CHE Environmental History Colloquium was founded in 2002 as a way to foster cross-disciplinary conversation and collegial friendships among faculty, staff, and grad students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who share an interest in past environmental change, especially as it relates to human activities and ideas. With the launching of the Center for Culture, History, and Environment (CHE) as part of UW-Madison's Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, the Colloquium now has a permanent institutional home in CHE.

From the beginning, the Colloquium has attracted dozens of regular participants from a wide array of departments and programs, including anthropology, atmospheric and oceanic sciences, botany, business, English literature, environmental studies, forestry, geography, geology and geophysics, history, history of science, landscape architecture, law, rural sociology, science and technology studies, sociology, urban and regional planning, and others.

Although members bring radically different disciplinary backgrounds and perspectives to the group, they share a common conviction that studying and understanding past environmental change is critical to the success of their own intellectual work. Because we recognize that no one discipline has a monopoly on methods or theories that can yield crucial insights into environmental change in the past, the Colloquium is designed to maximize opportunities for members to bring diverse viewpoints to bear on shared intellectual problems.

We also work hard to build a genuine sense of community among colleagues who might not otherwise regularly see each other outside this context. Anyone who would like to participate is welcome to join us.

Suggesting Speakers and Topics

It is very helpful to have a list of potential topics and/or discussion launchers for the year ahead, so if you have ideas or suggestions about those, and especially if you would like to volunteer yourself, please email , so she can gather people's thoughts.

Ground Rules

  • Colloquium participants should ideally think of themselves as joining the group, not simply picking and choosing among topics that seem of special interest. One of our most important goals is to build a true community of colleagues in a number of different disciplines who all share a special interest in past environmental change. We will be most successful in meeting this goal if we get to know each other as colleagues and friends, not simply as audiences for each other's performances. So please try to come to meetings as regularly and often as you can ... though you're of course welcome to attend even if your schedule doesn't permit you to come very often.
  • Please remember that although members of the Colloquium share a very important set of common interests, we do not share disciplines, and therefore do not share common vocabularies, common background knowledge, common theoretical assumptions, and so on. It will therefore be VERY easy for each of us to talk in ways that will completely mystify many other people in the room. This may serve one of the more pernicious goals of all intellectual disciplines -- intimidating those who are not members of a privileged guild -- but it will hardly serve the purposes of community bridge-building or cross-disciplinary learning. It will surely not help strangers become colleagues and friends. So please remember to explain your ideas in the most accessible ways possible. One helpful rule may be to talk with your colleagues in the Colloquium as if they were very bright undergraduates: intelligent enough to understand anything you can competently explain to them, but ignorant enough that they lack essential background information to understand your ideas without your help.
  • Our most important goal is conversation, and because we have only one hour for our discussions, it's crucial for discussion-launchers to remember that their task is to launch a conversation, not just make a speech and answer questions about it. Unless circumstances make it obviously impracticable, we try to hold all presentations to no more than about 20-30 minutes in order to protect the remaining time for discussion. We start shortly after noon, and end promptly at 1:00 pm. The success of a discussion-launcher is measured by her or his success in priming the pump for a lively conversation.