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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

Jordahl Public Lands Lecture - Wild and Scenic Rivers: An American Legacy
Wednesday, October 17, 7:00 PM, Memorial Union, Shannon Hall
In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, Tim Palmer will discuss the history and essential policies of this unique program while showing spectacular photos of designated rivers from his recent publication Wild and Scenic Rivers: An American Legacy. Palmer will also share his thoughts on the future of the world’s premier system for the protection of natural rivers.

Displaced Horizons: Music Performance and Installation
Saturday, October 27, 6:30 PM, George L. Mosse Humanities Building , Gallery 7, 7th Floor Room 7240
Displaced Horizons is a collaborative multimedia project focusing on water infrastructures’ socio-cultural and historical complexities. This event attends to often-overlooked technological entanglements to create an aesthetic and experiential reorientation towards infrastructures of water.
 We are excited to share this work with Madison and hope you will join us for a multimedia installation and musical performance featuring musicians from across the country. The exhibition runs from 6:30pm-9:00pm with the musical performance at 7:00pm. CHE is a proud co-sponsor of this innovative event.

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