Doing Environmental History: A New Tools for Change Series

Illustration of books, with one book open above the others. A question mark and exclamation point are above the open book.

Circuitous paths often bring people to environmental history. Here at EHN, our contributors and editorial team reflect the diversity of academic paths that can lead into this broad field. Environmental history work can emerge from social sciences like politics and anthropology, physical and natural sciences like biology and geology, interdisciplinary fields like environmental studies and area studies, and practice-based work in the arts and museums, among others. Environmental history’s multi- and interdisciplinarity is a strength but it also has challenges. Especially for those of us entering this field from different academic backgrounds, questions like “Is what I’m doing environmental history?” or “How do you/we/I do environmental history?” abound.

Amidst ongoing calls to broaden access to—and break down the barriers of—the “hidden curriculum” of academia, as well as efforts to embrace more experimental and non-traditional historical approaches (e.g., American Historical Review’s History Unclassified), EHN is launching a new series under the Tools for Change banner that will aim to gather resources, share knowledge, and provide practical advice for engaging in the work of environmental history. This new series, “Doing Environmental History,” asks contributors to consider the act of practicing environmental history through two guiding questions:

– How do you do environmental history?
– What is environmental history doing?

Instead of focusing on theoretical frameworks or abstract concepts, this series is rooted in the practical, everyday work of environmental history. Its focus is methodology—as in, how and why we do what we do. Options for exploring the “doing” of environmental history might include detailed practice advice and/or descriptions of work (like Katrin Kleemann’s piece on planning archival research), insights from teaching (like Bathsheba Demuth’s post on incorporating historical documents to diversify a survey course syllabus), rethinking social and environmental ethics of methods (like Diana M. Valencia’s piece on research travel’s climate costs and Rohini Patel’s insights on what “sustainable” academia might look like), and much more.

We also invite a new format of contributions for EHN: interviews with people doing environmental history in various ways (note: if you’re interested in contributing a post in interview format, please ontact EHN first, rather than the interviewee, to avoid potential interview fatigue!)

Relevant subjects may include:
– Archival and non-archival methods
– Digital humanities methods
– Decolonial and anticolonial methods
– Research ethics
– Participatory and community-engaged methods
– Activism and activist research
– Responding to critiques of “presentism”
– Praxis (ie, dynamic combination of research, practice, and reflection; see Sultana, 2023 for a good overview)
– Pedagogy (ie, frameworks/ideas around practices of teaching and learning)
– Research/project planning
– Public history and environmental history outside academia

This series is housed within our existing Tools for Change series, as “doing” environmental history is part and parcel with transforming environmental history. Indeed, as the second question this series asks—what is environmental history doing?—serves as a prompt to consider not just what environmental history is doing, but also what else it might/should do.

Pieces should be 750-1250 words in length, and can cover any topic within this theme, related to both research and personal experience, across any time or geographical space. Contributors will be considered who fit within the EHN’s larger goal of elevating the voices of graduate students and early career scholars who identify as women, trans and/or nonbinary people in environmental history.

Please write with ideas, proposals, or questions to Pitches will be accepted on a rolling basis until June 14, 2023, under the standard Guidelines for Contributors.

*Cover image credit: imajin noasking, Education Vectors by Vecteezy.

[*Cover image description: Illustration of books, with one book open above the others. A question mark and exclamation point are above the open book.]

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