Histories of environmental change


The Environmental Histories Network is a multi-disciplinary partnership funded under the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Environmental Change Networks scheme. The network revolves around three workshops exploring local and global processes of environmental change in a historical perspective. This website is will report on the outcome of the workshops and involve academics, environmental and landscape managers and the interested public through podcasts, videos and online articles and discussions.

The objectives of the network project are:

  • To examine critically what we mean by ‘the environment’ and ‘environmental change’ in current and past contexts at local and global levels. Exploring the extent to which our understanding of ‘environment’ as a concept, and its application at particular moments, is related to the broader societal context, is both sufficiently wide, yet also precise enough, to provide coherence to the overall project. Why are certain problems understood as being ‘environmental’ and what have been the implications of this for the way in which they are addressed? Are there specifically ‘environmental’ narratives and genres that have shaped our thinking around this category and thus our understanding of change? Academics and non-academics alike often treat ‘environment’ as having self-evident meaning apart from human agency. Yet ‘environment’ is no less socially, culturally and historically constructed than ‘nature’ and ‘wilderness’ (or ‘landscape’).
  • To enable productive exchanges and create a basis for future collaboration between academics and professionals involved in addressing and managing environmental change.
  • To accelerate the insertion of environmental history into mainstream historical studies, and in turn inform policy, by raising awareness of its contribution and perspectives within the historical profession.

Get involved and join the discussions by leaving comments on this site, listen to the podcasts, explore the videos or read the papers that will be posted. Please post any comments using the comment post facilities on the individual post pages or use the contact form.

In 2012 the network has received received a further 12 months of AHRC funding for a new series of workshops.  The central theme of the new project – ‘The Places that Speak to Us and the Publics We Talk With: Shaping Environmental Histories’ – is how environmental discourses are shaped by place in a geographical, social and discursive sense, highlighting issues of translation and communication of environmental experience. Read more about the new activities in the “Places that speak to us” section.