Conference March 6-8, 2020: Environmental Justice in Multispecies Worlds: Land, Water, Food
September 19, 2019

We invite participants for an interdisciplinary graduate student conference to be held March 6-8, 2020, on the campus of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, which occupies ancestral Ho-Chunk land. This conference emerges from a multi-year conversation across departments at UW-Madison concerned with meaning of social and environmental justice in what Marisol de la Cadena and Mario Blaser have called a “world of many worlds.” Inspired by work on indigenous cosmopolitics, multispecies ethics, feminist and postcolonial studies, and racial capitalism, we seek to understand the following questions:


How have histories of colonial and capitalist exploitation shaped contemporary configurations among humans and other beings? How do class, racial, ethnic, gender, and other politics shape multispecies encounters? How can recognizing multiple forms of life reframe techno-scientific management? What might constitute environmental justice in the pluriverse? How might attention to indigenous cosmologies and multispecies ethics redefine the politics and structures of environmental justice? Is justice an apt framework for engaging relationships among humans and other-than-humans?


We invite participants to join and extend this conversation, bringing methodologies and perspectives from across the humanities and social and natural sciences to explore key themes of climate justice, settler colonialism, decolonization, racial capitalism, sovereignty, food justice, democracy, rights, more-than-human worlds, among others. Featured speakers include:


●       Marisol de la Cadena, Professor of Anthropology and Science and Technology Studies, University of California–Davis

●       Kyle Powys Whyte, Professor of Sociology and Community Sustainability, Michigan State University

●       Cleo Woelfle-Erksine, Assistant Professor, School of Marine & Environmental Affairs, University of Washington


Download CFP.

Read and Listen: Edge Effects Digital Magazine and Podcast
October 18, 2018

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.  


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.


Claiming Space: 12th Annual CHE Graduate Student Symposium- Call for Papers Now Open
October 18, 2018

The Center for Culture, History, and Environment (CHE) will host their 12th annual Graduate Student Symposium on Saturday, February 16th, 2019. The symposium’s goal is to provide a supportive setting for graduate students to present and receive feedback on current work related to environmental and cultural change in the full sweep of human history. Work on all geographic locations, time periods, from all disciplines, and in a variety of forms and modes is welcome. Although we encourage presentations to be along the theme of “Claiming Space,” this title should be interpreted as broadly and loosely as you desire. Presentations may approach environmental and cultural change from diverse perspectives and methodologies: scientific, historical, theoretical, artistic. Graduate students are warmly invited to submit single-paper proposals, a round-table discussion panel of 3 or 4 on a related topic, poster proposals, or creative works.


For individual presentations, please submit a 250-word proposal and brief biographical sketch. For a joint panel, please submit a brief overview of the panel, 250-word proposals for each paper, and a brief biography of each presenter. For a poster, please submit a 250-word description of the project and the images you might use.

For all proposals, please indicate whether presenting at the symposium will help fulfill the requirements of the CHE Certificate. If you are interested in serving as a commentator/discussant this year, please let the CHE symposium planning committee know. For all submissions or to serve as a commentator, please email by Friday, December 21, 2018.

CHE Graduate Associate Marcos Colón wins international recognition for documentary film "Beyond Fordlândia”
October 23, 2017

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
February 5, 2017

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.  


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.


Grads, faculty gather at UW to celebrate Gaylord Nelson's centennial at the 9th Annual CHE Graduate Symposium
March 16, 2016

Graduate students and faculty representing 13 different institutions from the US and Canada gathered in Madison for a rich weekend of conversation, debate, and service learning in celebration of Gaylord Nelson's centennial. The group, participants in the CHE Graduate Symposium, worked towards building a "new vocabulary" for the environment, a theme created by conference co-organizers and CHE associates Brian Hamilton and Kate Wersan.

Want to learn more?

Read an interview with Symposium participant Dr. Scott Kirsch. 

Peruse the full Symposium schedule and list of participants.

Read an interview with Symposium organizers Brian Hamilton and Kate Wersan.


Thanks to our many conference participants for joining us, and congratulations to the many CHE volunteers involved in hosting the event! 

March 4-6, Madison:
January 20, 2016

What do we really mean when we say we study 'environments'?  The upcoming CHE Grad symposium, E is for Environment, will explore this question in the context of current research produced by graduate students from UW and across North America. Kate Brown will keynote, kicking off a weekend of events that are free and open to the public.  Visit the website to register!

Belief: Tales from Planet Earth returns to explore faith, science and environment
November 5, 2015

How does thinking about belief enrich our thinking about environment? Tales from Film Festival founder Gregg Mitman, professor of history of science, medical history and environmental studies, and festival programming director and CHE alumnus Peter Boger, recently spoke about what attendees can expect at this weekend's series of free events.

Read more.

Tackling Ebola on many fronts
October 29, 2014

Nelson Institute faculty affiliates Gregg Mitman, Richard Keller and Tony Goldberg are among a cohort of researchers and physicians in the UW-Madison Global Health Institute (GHI) community who have personally and professionally confronted the Ebola outbreak — and are looking for ways to avoid the next crisis. 
Read more at Nelson →

Video: Ebola prompts interdisciplinary response at UW-Madison
October 27, 2014

Gregg Mitman was shooting a documentary in Liberia this summer when Ebola hit the headlines. Tony Goldberg has studied bats and the diseases they carry in Uganda. Back on campus, professors Mitman, Goldberg, and Alta Charo discuss how UW–Madison is involved in holistic, cross-disciplinary efforts to understand the Ebola crisis and propose solutions.  
Read more at Nelson →

Objects of the past and future fill Anthropocene ‘cabinet of curiosities’
October 22, 2014

After reaching your hand into a Hazmat glove, you pull a BlackBerry Curve 8300 from a slick of crude oil. This BlackBerry — an icon of connectivity and productivity upon its release in 2007 — now seems unwieldy in comparison to today’s smartphones, which have driven it into obsolescence. The “extinct device” — meant to represent a future fossil — is one of 25 objects that will be presented Nov. 8-10 at The Anthropocene Slam: A Cabinet of Curiosities, a series of free public events at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery. 
Read more at Nelson →

Anna M. Gade: Exploring the confluence of religion and environment
October 17, 2014

Connections between faith and environmental stewardship have been the focus of a growing conversation in evangelical Christianity, led in part by Nelson Institute emeritus professor Cal Dewitt. But other religious communities, including Islam, have also been exploring this relationship, according to Nelson Institute professor Anna M. Gade. Gade, a Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor and expert in religious studies who recently joined the Nelson faculty, teaches a variety of courses, ranging from Islam in Southeast Asia to Religion and the Environment.
Read more at Nelson →

Environmental historian William Cronon awarded Wilderness Society’s highest honor
September 25, 2014

Environmental historian and University of Wisconsin-Madison professor William Cronon has been presented with The Wilderness Society’s Robert Marshall Award — the organization’s highest civilian honor — for his contributions to the protection of America’s wild places.
Read more at Nelson →

Environmental history, as seen through tortoises
September 25, 2014

Elizabeth Hennessy grounds her study of transnational histories in one amazing creature: the giant tortoise of the Galápagos Islands. She joins the UW-Madison Department of History and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies this year as an assistant professor of global environmental history, shedding new light on how geography, culture, and science intersect in a land long associated with Darwin’s theory of natural selection.
Read more at Nelson →

Mitman offers perspective on ‘toxic ecology’ surrounding Ebola crisis
September 22, 2014

In an essay published Sept. 17 in the New England Journal of Medicine, Gregg Mitman, director of the Nelson Institute Center for Culture, History and Environment, reflects on the Ebola crisis in West Africa and the "ecology of fear" associated with it.
Read more at Nelson →

From ecotopia to ecopocalypse: View eight student films
September 9, 2014

In 2013, visiting artist-in-residence Alex Rivera and UW-Madison professor Gregg Mitman taught an environmental filmmaking class, From Ecotopia to Ecopocalypse: Telling Digital Stories About the Environment, which led upper-level undergraduate and graduate students through the process of creating short fiction films on a theme of environmental futures.
Read more at Nelson →

Documentary with Nelson connections wins international award for archival footage
May 2, 2014

The trailer for "A Film Never Made,” a documentary codirected and produced by Nelson Institute faculty affiliate Gregg Mitman, captured the award for best use of archival footage in a short production at the 11th annual FOCAL International Awards April 30.
Read more at Nelson →