3rd World Congress of Environmental History

Session Submission Summary

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2020s Vision for Environmental History

Mon, July 22, 2:00 to 3:30pm, Centro de Filosofia e Ciencias Humanas (CFH), Auditorio do Bloco E

Session Submission Type: Experimental Session


Our field has experienced significant growth internationally over the past twenty years. There may be no better evidence of that – and, in turn, further cause of it – than the blooming of environmental history organizations, including ESEH, SOLCHA, NiCHE, AEAEH, ASAEH, ICEHO, and the Rachel Carson Center, all in the first decade of the new century. These organizations and institutions have helped the field’s international maturation in the 2010s.

But there are signs that the 2020s may bring significant challenges to environmental history as an international field. Climate change and a strained geopolitical order are already discouraging some scholars from international networking, and digital networking has not yet, with some exceptions, proven a well-accepted substitute. Moreover, the field’s big-tent inclusivity – its willingness to engage any and all topics, from deep space to deep time – has been accused of diluting its analytical utility, and may contribute to a fracturing (or, put another way, a healthy propagating) into subfields such as climate history, animal history, etc. Simultaneously, the increased push for interdisciplinary research may see environmental history being subsumed into the environmental humanities.

“2020s Vision” will be an open discussion forum circling around these questions: Where is environmental history going? Where should it be going? And how can it get there? With experience in developing the RCC, NiCHE, and SOLCHA, the session moderators and chair will open the discussion by briefly framing the history of the field from their standpoints. They will encourage the audience to move beyond consideration of ideas to that of infrastructure – how visions can be achieved. What kinds of organizations do we need going forward? How do political and economic contexts influence infrastructure, and in turn scholarship? What about digital tools? The discussion will be live-tweeted; summaries of the discussion will be posted on the NiCHE and RCC blogs.

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