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2016 conference - Seattle, WA

Environmental History and Its Publics - March 30-April 3, 2016

Located on the shores of the Salish Sea and surrounded by lakes and rivers, Seattle’s location serves as an evocative site to consider fluid and interdisciplinary themes in environmental history, with their commensurate ebb and flow of natures, peoples, ideas, goods, and microbes. The region is likewise home to powerful global corporations, including Boeing, Starbucks, Amazon, and Microsoft, ones that not only influence our interaction with the natural world but also provide an opportunity for historians to promote policy and decision-making beyond traditional academic venues. With a multitude of threats facing today’s environment and the diverse people who depend on it, historians need to find the venues and craft the vocabularies necessary for reaching new audiences and contributing to knowledge making with direct applicability.

For this reason, the theme of Seattle’s conference will be “Environmental History and Its Publics.” Environmental history has grown over the past decade, especially on the international level, and is now poised to engage multiple publics who can benefit from the field’s interdisciplinary approach. To reach these new audiences, environmental historians must begin to retool their message and methodologies to push society beyond its fixation on the present with a deeper understanding of the past so that better decisions can be made to shape the future of human and nonhuman life on Earth.