See the Table of Contents below ("In This Issue") and click on the article that you wish to read. When you finish an article, scroll back up to the Table of Contents and click on the next article that you wish to read.
|President's Column: Responding to Arizona's Immigration Law|
ASEH's executive committee remains extremely troubled by SL 1070 and the potential discrimination against our members and conference attendees in Arizona. In early May I appointed an ad hoc committee, including Chris Boyer, Kathy Brosnan, and Nancy Langston, which drafted a letter to the governor of Arizona. Our executive committee is very grateful for their assistance. The letter, which I signed and sent on behalf of the executive committee, can be viewed below. ASEH will also send a letter to the Arizona Republic this month.
In light of the seriousness of this issue, the executive committee voted in late May on the question of meeting in Phoenix, with the majority of its members deciding to go forward with the conference. This was not an easy decision, and the executive committee agreed to go forward provided that the program and local arrangements committees take concrete steps to protest the negative impact of this law on ASEH and its members, create opportunities for ASEH members to participate in the conference in absentia via poster sessions and/or video conferencing, sponsor a plenary session on immigration and environmental justice, and generally increase the profile of minority and non-western voices at the conference.
to read ASEH's statements about SL 1070, posted on our website.
May 28, 2010
The Honorable Janice Brewer
State of Arizona
1700 W Washington
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Dear Governor Brewer:
I write you in my capacity as the president of the American Society for Environmental History (ASEH) and with the support of our executive committee. The ASEH is a professional organization founded in 1977 to promote scholarship and teaching in environmental history and to advance a greater understanding of the history of human interaction with the rest of the natural world. Our 1100 members include professors, graduate students, writers, and independent scholars, many of whom attend our annual conference in order to present their research and keep abreast of the most recent scholarship.
The next ASEH conference is currently scheduled to be held in Phoenix on April 12-16, 2011. We have already signed a contract with the Wyndham Phoenix Hotel and scheduled a series of educational trips to sites in Arizona. However, the passage of SL 1070, which is part of a recent pattern of discriminatory legislation in your state, has placed these plans in jeopardy. As you know, a number of civil society organizations, and some municipal governments, have advised their constituents to avoid travel to Arizona. We must now choose between relocating our conference out of the state at considerable cost, or proceeding without the participation of those members who feel unable to travel there under current circumstances.
Moreover, if we hold our conference in Arizona under SL 1070, a subset of our members would be subject to discrimination based on their appearance alone, thus interfering with their professional activities as historians. Because some members of the ASEH could be required to produce evidence of their citizenship or immigration status or face the possibility of arrest, they would be subject to higher levels of scrutiny than the rest of the population. This situation violates their civil rights and makes them de facto second-class citizens in Arizona.
The ASEH values the participation of all its members, and we recognize that potential violations of the civil rights of any of our members or conference attendees not only harms those individuals but also our organization as a whole. It undermines our spirit of collegiality and reduces attendance, impairing the intellectual diversity and vitality of conference discussions. In a very real sense, SL 1070 silences some of our members.
Because of its pernicious effects on our professional activities, the ASEH formally protests the passage of SL 1070 and will attempt to move its conference out of Phoenix if the law remains in effect. Nor will we schedule any future events in Arizona as long as the law remains on the books. We would prefer not to take these measures, however. Whatever its original intent, there is no question at this point that SL 1070 is harmful to the organization over which I preside. I therefore request that you and members of the state legislature take immediate steps to repeal SL 1070 and ensure that Arizona welcomes visitors of all ethnic origins.
Arthur J. Conner Professor of History
President, American Society for Environmental History
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge MA 02139
|The Profession: On-Campus Job Interviews and the Teaching Demonstration|
By Paul Hirt, Arizona State University
How can a graduating doctoral student best prepare for success in this tight academic job market? A completed dissertation, teaching experience, publications, professional service, and strong letters of support from your mentors are the key ingredients to making the first cut. But for those of you lucky enough to get invited to an on-campus job interview, some additional preparation is necessary. Katherine Hijar of the AHA's Graduate and Early Career Committee organized a panel for the 2010 AHA meeting in San Diego titled "The Campus Visit: Strategies for Success," including advice on teaching and research presentations, meetings with deans, faculty, and students, and dining with faculty. The following is an excerpt from my advice on the teaching demonstration.
In general, you will be expected to lecture, while also demonstrating an ability to connect with students and use modern teaching methods and tools. The hiring committee or faculty observers quite simply want to observe your performance in front of a classroom. They will be judging your style, composure, speaking ability, and classroom demeanor as well as the content of your lecture. You should dress and act with professional decorum, even if they encourage you be informal. Be prepared to lecture before a mock class comprised of random students and faculty. This can happen when a real class is not available to you and is disconcerting.
Acquire as much information as possible in advance about the expectations and classroom conditions for your teaching demonstration: topic of lecture, audience, nature of the class/course, length of time, AV equipment, etc. You may receive clear direction, vague direction, or no direction. Try to nail down an agreed upon topic instead of leaving it ambiguous.
It is critical to know whether you will speak to an actual class or not. If it is an actual class, ask for a copy of the syllabus. Talk to the instructor if available. Determine what the students are reading. Try to make your lecture fit the class as much as possible. If it is not an actual class, you will have more leeway but a more difficult time. A mock classroom of students and faculty feels artificial and awkward. Who do you pitch your lecture to? Communicate with those in charge and pitch it to an agreed-upon grade level. Verbally acknowledge that decision before beginning your mock presentation.
For example, you might say: "I was asked to prepare a lecture for a survey course in post-1865 US History so I prepared a presentation on political corruption and reform in the Gilded Age. I will pretend you are a classroom of freshman and sophomore students and present a 30-minute lecture on the topic. After such lectures I normally engage the students in discussion, but instead I will simply discuss the methods I use to stimulate active student engagement in the course material." Get agreement from your faculty contact (search committee chair usually) on any decisions that you make about your lecture.
Determine if it is a 50-minute or a 75-minute class. Ask your faculty contact if you should fill the whole class period or just a portion. Even if it is not a real class there will be a designated time period, but don't assume they want you to lecture for the entire period. Ask. "Mock" classes made up of mostly faculty are difficult. Professors are generally not a generous audience for undergraduate course lectures. After seeing enough of your performance to make a judgment about your likelihood for success as a teacher, they will want to speak with you about your teaching goals and methods. Leave time for that. But speak with your faculty contact and get an agreement ahead of time.
Be very, very careful about preparing lectures dependent on audio-visual bells and whistles. The institutions where you are likely to get your first job interviews may not have the kinds of AV technologies to which you have grown accustomed. You are skating on thin ice if you prepare a lecture that depends on Powerpoint, video, or Internet access and the technology is unavailable or breaks down. Always have a back-up plan. You won't have a second chance at the lecture or at making a first impression. Show that you can effectively use the latest technologies but don't be dependent on them.
Be yourself. Find a golden mean between enthusiasm and composure. Give eye contact as much as possible. Do NOT read your lecture. If it is a mock lecture (not a real class) you can start by talking about what you decided to prepare for the teaching demonstration and why. Then launch into your mock lecture. Then come back to a direct engagement with your non-student audience to talk about your teaching philosophy and the various tools and strategies you use to be an effective teacher. That will launch the discussion. Often professors are less interested in talking about the content of your lecture, although those questions may come up.
Make sure you can be heard in the back of the room without shouting over the heads of the people in front. Watch for visual cues, ask questions if anything is unclear to you. Keep track of the time. Don't exceed the time frame assigned to you. Try not to get rattled if something goes wrong. Improbable advice, I know, but how you respond in these situations reveals much about yourself. Show that you can adapt to changes and remain composed when challenged. And there will be challenges.
Most importantly: respect your audience. Respond to all questions thoughtfully and directly-even hostile questions. This interview may be the beginning of a long-term relationship with the colleagues in the room. Show that you respect them and their institution, and that you take your professional responsibilities seriously.
After a teaching demonstration, whether a real class or a mock audience, most people will quickly disappear and you will be left with a handler or two. It will feel anti-climactic to you. Don't worry. It was all just a "demonstration." It is different than a research presentation in which you expect to engage with the audience about intellectual issues. The exception might be for a job at a teaching college in which one's teaching abilities are of paramount concern to the search committee. Then you might have a vigorous conversation about pedagogy after your lecture.
Usually you will want to have a break to relax or get some caffeine after your teaching demonstration. Your voice will be tired. You may be exhausted from the stress. Don't hesitate to ask for something to drink (nonalcoholic!) or for a quiet room where you can take a brief break before the next event. Your handlers will often schedule you tightly, with little down time. If that's the case, ask someone sympathetic ahead of time to bring you a favorite beverage between meetings. Ask about bathrooms ahead of time so you know where they are.
At all times carry with you your schedule of meetings, contact information for key members of the search committee, a cell phone in silent mode, a map of campus with key buildings marked, medication for headaches, cash, a toothbrush, and breath mints.
recently was appointed by President Obama as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Region 7 Administrator
. He supervises EPA operations in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and nine Tribal Nations, and reports directly to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.
Christine Keiner, Rochester Institute of Technology, won Honorable Mention for the 2010 Frederick Jackson Turner Award from the Organization of American Historians and Heritage Book Award from the Maryland Historical Trust for The Oyster Question: Scientists, Watermen, and the Maryland Chesapeake Bay since 1880 (University of Georgia Press).
Martin V. Melosi, Distinguished University Professor and Director of the Center for Public History at the University of Houston, has been named the Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen University Professor.
Eric Perramond has published a new book, Political Ecologies of Cattle Ranching in Northern Mexico: Private Revolutions (University of Arizona Press, Tucson).
Thomas Wellock is now the historian for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Verena Winiwarter has been elected a corresponding member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, effective May 2010.
The following ASEH members are recipients of the American Council of Learned Society fellowships for 2010:
Karl Appuhn, New York University [Meat Matters: Epizootics, Science, and Society in Eighteenth-Century Venice]
Toshihiro Higuchi, Georgetown University [Nuclear Fallout, the Politics of Risk, and the Making of a Global Environmental Crisis, 1945-1963]
Michitake Aso, University of Wisconsin-Madison [Forests Without Birds: Ecology and Health on the Rubber Plantations of French Colonial Vietnam, 1890-1954]
Strother E. Roberts, Northwestern University [Harvesting the Woods, Harnessing the Waters: An Environmental History of the Colonial Connecticut Valley]
For more information about ACLS fellowships, including deadlines, see:
Congratulatons to all!
|ASEH Awards Submissions for 2010 - Second Notice |
Please send three copies of each submission (these must be hard copies, or paper copies) by November 12, 2010 to:
Each year, ASEH awards the George Perkins Marsh Prize for the best book in environmental history; the Alice Hamilton Prize for the best article published outside our journal, Environmental History; and the Rachel Carson Prize for the best dissertation in environmental history.
This year ASEH's prize committees will evaluate submissions (published books and articles and completed dissertations) that appear between November 1, 2009 and October 31, 2010.
ASEH, UW Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences Program
University of Washington
1900 Commerce Street
Tacoma, WA 98402
Please note: articles that appear in our journal, Environmental History are automatically considered for the Leopold-Hidy Prize, and there is no need to submit the articles.
Titles from previous book award recipients (2000, 2001, and 2009)
|Update on ASEH's Phoenix Conference|
"History and Sustainability: Stories of Progress, Hubris, Decline, and Resilience"
Our next annual conference will take place in Phoenix, Arizona, April 12-17, 2011. Hosted by Arizona State University, one of the country's outstanding innovators in sustainability studies, the conference will include a plenary talk by William Cronon
and a workshop sponsored by ASU's School of Sustainability and the Decision Center for a Desert City.
Additional events will include a plenary discussion on immigration, borderlands, and social justice, as well as panels, film screenings, and exhibits examining the US-Mexico border wall's impact on people and wildlife.
At the height of spring, the conference will include an overnight trip to Grand Canyon National Park (April 17-18), and half-day site visits on Friday to explore water development, urban planning, local archaeological projects, and other topics.
ASEH's program committee plans to offer a video conferencing option at our meeting in Phoenix so that some presenters can participate from a distance. If you are interested, please submit a proposal by the June 30 deadline and indicate your preference for video conferencing.
to submit a proposal to present a paper, poster, panel, or roundtable discussion. The deadline is June 30, 2010.
For more information, contact:
Photo above courtesy Paul Hirt
Phoenix skyline (above) and Salt River damsite, 1903 (below)
ASEH Elections 2011
ASEH's nominating committee (Deborah Fitzgerald, Paul Sutter, Alan Maceachern, and Kathryn Morse) is now accepting suggestions for candidates for ASEH's 2011 election. Positions will be open on the executive committee and nominating committee. Candidates must be members of ASEH. If you have suggestions, please contact Paul Sutter, co-chair at:firstname.lastname@example.org
to view a list of current executive committee members.
ASEH offers travel grants to students, low-income, and minority scholars to present at our conferences. For more info, click here.
Samuel P. Hays Research Fellowship
ASEH created this fellowship to recognize the contributions of Samuel P. Hays, the inaugural recipient of the society's Distinguished Scholar Award, and to advance the field of environmental history, broadly conceived. The fellowship provides a single payment of $1,000 to help fund travel to and use of an archive or manuscript repository. It is open to practicing
historians (either academic, public, or independent). Graduate students are ineligible. A PhD is not required. Submissions will be accepted June 1 - September 30, 2010, and the recipient will be selected and notified in December 2010 for funding in January 2011.
To apply, please submit the following items:
1. A two-page statement (500 words) explaining your project and how you intend to use the research funds.
2. A c.v. no more than three pages in length.
All items for the Samuel P. Hays Research Fellowship must be submitted electronically to Phil Garone, chair of the committee, by September 30, 2010
Hal Rothman Research Fellowship
The Hal Rothman Research Fellowship was created to recognize graduate student achievements in environmental history research in honor of Hal Rothman, recipient of ASEH's Distinguished Service award in 2006 and editor of Environmental History for many years. The fellowship provides a single payment of $1,000 for PhD graduate student research and travel in the field of environmental history, without geographical restriction. The funds must be used to support archival research and travel during 2011.
Students enrolled in any PhD program worldwide are eligible to apply. Applications will be accepted June 1 - September 30, 2010, and the recipient will be selected and notified in December 2010, for funding in January 2011.
To apply, please submit the following three items:
A two-page statement (500 words) explaining your project and how you intend to use the research funds.
A letter of recommendation from your graduate advisor.
All items for the Hal Rothman Research Fellowship must be submitted electronically to Kim Little, chair of the committee, by September 30, 2010
Grey Towers Scholar-in-Residence Program
The USDA Forest Service and Grey Towers Heritage Association invite applications for a residency at Grey Towers National Historic Site in Milford, PA. This program provides a single payment of $1,500 to $3,000 to each award winner to fund travel expenses and per diem during a one-to-four week stay. The deadline for winter residency is September 15, 2010. For more info, contact Lincoln Bramwell, Chief Historian, US Forest Service, at email@example.com
The Anglo-American Conference of Historians will focus on "Environments" and will take place July 1-2, 2010 at the University of London. Several ASEH members will serve as plenary speakers: Alfred Crosby, John McNeill, Harriet Ritvo, and Donald Worster. Click here for more info.
|The BP Oil Spill: Economy versus Ecology|
By Carolyn Merchant, University of California-Berkeley
The Gulf of Mexico oil spill on April 20, 2010 is a striking example of the conflict between two sciences, economy and ecology-both rooted in the Greek word oikos, meaning home or household. Economy is the management of the household, ecology the study of the household. The two ideas were presciently connected by German biologist Ernst Haeckel in 1866 when he noted that biologists had neglected "the relations of the organism to the environment, the place each organism takes in the household of nature, in the economy of all nature. . . ." [see citation #1 below]
BP's deep-well technology is an experiment with Nature gone deadly. It exemplifies the contained, controlled experiment-developed during the Scientific Revolution of the seventeenth century-that depends on isolating the factors under investigation from any environmental conditions that might interfere with the results, or in this case the profits. Mechanistic science as the ideology of capitalism allows for the maximization of profits at the expense of nature. As Karl Marx put it in the 1860s, "natural elements entering into production" are the "free gift of Nature to capital." 
BP took this free gift, confined it in well-casings, capped it with a "fail-safe" blow-out preventor, and sucked up the profits created by fossilized nature. Francis Bacon in the 1620s saw it as Nature in bonds. "She is put in constraint, moulded, and made as it were new by art and the hand of man," he wrote. The goal was "the enlarging of the bounds of human empire. to the effecting of all things possible."  In the effort to fulfill Bacon's vision, BP blew it.
With the blow-out, Nature is in revolt; economy at odds with ecology.  The earth's household has been mismanaged; its study incomplete. The problem as BP has tragically and belatedly discovered is that Nature as an active force cannot be so confined. The pressures created by deep sea oil cannot be contained in mechanized, engineered systems isolated from the environment. The closed mechanical system, according to chaos theorists, is the unusual; unpredictable, chaotic events the usual. 
Ecological systems are open systems in which matter and energy flow across boundaries. Oil moved by ocean currents and winds flows across the boundaries, booms, and berms placed by BP in its vain effort to contain its spread. Plankton, corals, and fish are deprived of life-sustaining oxygen; fishers, oil workers, and chefs of life-sustaining work. Everywhere life and death are in a struggle to maintain the oikos.
In response to the 1969 Union Oil spill in Santa Barbara, California, thousands of demonstrators protested the unchecked power of "big oil." Environmental activists and the New Left came together to articulate a critique of Capital versus Nature, Economy versus Ecology. 
Where is that critique today? Where is the Left? Where is the coalition of students, environmental groups, and critics of global capitalism? The opportunity to push hard against global warming and for alternative energy, alternative transportation, and alternative economies is slipping away. The oikos, our planetary home, is at stake.
Pelican rescue in Louisiana, US Fish & Wildlife Service
1. Ernst Haeckel, Generelle Morphologie der Organismen (Berlin: Reimer, 1866), vol. 2: 286-87; English translation in Robert C. Stauffer, "Haeckel, Darwin, and Ecology," Quarterly Review of Biology (1957), 32: 138-144, see pp. 140-141.
2. Karl Marx, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, vol. 3, trans. Ernest Untermann and ed. Friedrich Engels (NY: International Publishers, 1967), vol. 3:745.
3. Francis Bacon, De Augmentis Scientiarum, Works, ed. James Spedding, Robert Leslie Ellis, and Douglas Devon Heath, 14 vols. (London: Longmans Green, 1875), vol. 4, p. 294 and New Atlantis, Works, vol. 3, p. 156.
4. Max Horkheimer, The Eclipse of Reason (NY: Oxford University Press, 1947), pp. 92-127.
5. James Gleick, Chaos: The Making of a New Science (NY: Viking, 1987).
6. Adam Rome, "'Give Earth a Chance:' The Environmental Movement and the Sixties," The Journal of American History, vol. 90, no. 2 (Sept 2003):525-554; Roderick Nash, ed., The American Environment: Readings in the History of Conservation (Reading, MA: Addison Wesley, 1976).
|ASEH News is a publication of the American Society for Environmental History.
Harriet Ritvo, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, President
John McNeill, Georgetown University, Vice President/President Elect
Mark Madison, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Treasurer
Ellen Stroud, Bryn Mawr College, SecretaryExecutive Committee:
Marcus Hall, University of Utah
Paul Hirt, Arizona State University
Nancy Jacobs, Brown University
Tina Loo, University of British Columbia
Gregg Mitman, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Linda Nash, University of Washington
Mark Stoll, Texas Tech University Ex Officio, Past Presidents:
Nancy Langston, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Stephen Pyne, Arizona State University
Douglas Weiner, University of Arizona Ex Officio, Executive Director and Editor, ASEH News:
Lisa Mighetto, University of Washington-Tacoma Ex Officio, H-Environment Representative:
Melissa WiedenfeldEx Officio, Editor, Environmental History:
Mark Cioc, University of California-Santa Cruz
Quick links to ASEH's Phoenix conference
The deadline for proposals for papers, posters, panels, and roundtables is June 30, 2010. Click here to submit a proposal.
Click here for info on the conference hotel, (the Wyndham Phoenix).
Click here for info on travel grants available for the Phoenix conference.
New developments for journal
Beginning in January 2011, Environmental History will have a new book review editor: Jack Patrick Hayes, Department of History and Political Science, Norwich University. He served for approximately three years as an editorial assistant for the journal, Pacific Affairs and as a guest editor for the Trin-gyi-pho-nya (Cloud Messenger), a Tibetan studies e-journal.
has a new website. Click here
Oxford University Press now publishes Environmental History
and manages ASEH memberships. This means that when you join ASEH or renew your membership, which includes a subscription to the journal, you will be taken to the Oxford Journals subscription page. Here you will be guided through the process of creating an account with Oxford Journals that will allow you to subscribe to the journal and become an ASEH member. Click here
to join or renew.
ASEH's Portland plenary session now available on C-span
C-span taped ASEH's plenary session on Klamath River dam removal on March 11, 2010. Click here
to view the session, which is available on the American History page.
ASEH future meetings
Phoenix, Arizona - April 12-17, 2011
Madison, Wisconsin - March 28-31, 2012
Toronto, Ontario, Canada - April 3-6, 2013
This newsletter is a quarterly publication of the American Society for Environmental History. If you have questions, or if you would like to submit an article or announcement, contact Lisa Mighetto, editor, at
The deadline for the fall issue is September 17, 2010.