Northwestern Events Calendar


"Environments in the Plural: Reconstructing a Concept’s Multiple Pasts to Reimagine a Movement’s Future"

When: Monday, April 20, 2020
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM  

Where: University Hall, Hagstrum - 201, 1897 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Cost: FREE

Contact: Janet Hundrieser   847.491.3525

Group: Science in Human Culture Program - Klopsteg Lecture Series

Category: Lectures & Meetings


Speaker - Etienne Benson, University of Pennsylvania, History of Sociology and Science,

Abstract - Historians of science have recently begun to show how the environmental movement that emerged in the 1960s depended on the articulation of a new object of research and concern: “the environment,” conceived as singular, global, threatened, and knowable only through certain highly specialized forms of expertise. This is not the only way that the concept of environment has been understood or mobilized for social ends, however. This talk describes some of the alternative environments and environmentalisms that preceded “the” environment and “the” environmentalism with which we are most familiar, and suggests that these past forms may point the way toward more just and effective environmentalisms for the present and future. 

Biography - Professor Benson is a historian of the environmental sciences, environmentalism, and human-animal relationships in the 19th and 20th centuries. He is the author of Wired Wilderness: Technologies of Tracking and the Making of Modern Wildlife (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010) and a forthcoming book from the University of Chicago Press titled Surroundings: A History of Environments and Environmentalisms.

He has also published a number of articles and book chapters on a range of topics in environmental history and the history of the environmental sciences. These include a 2013 article on squirrels in US cities that received widespread media coverage, a 2015 paper on birds and power lines that received two prizes from special interest groups associated with the Society for the History of Technology, and a 2017 paper on bird-banding and citizen science that was awarded the 2019 David Edge article prize of the Society for Social Studies of Science. His current book project, supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, concerns the politics and practice of data in hydrology and fluvial geomorphology in the United States from the 1940s to the 1970s.

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