American Studies Program

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                                2010 Conference: Social Conflict and Environmental Change

2011 Conference 

“Creating Healthy Landscapes: Human and Environmental Well-being in Comparative and Historical Perspective.”
A Northeast Regional Conference
Yale University, Saturday, March 26, 2011
New Haven, Connecticut

"The quality of the conference is really astounding . . . Each presenter was prepared, stayed on time, did a fine job of engaging the audience and their material."

                                                            2011 Conference Participant


For environmental historians, the question of what it means-- and has meant-- for a landscape to be healthy provides a starting point to explore the entanglement of human and natural histories.  The same landscape-- such as the tropics-- can carry multiple and contradictory meanings. Searching for health in nature often has the ironic effect of changing the traits of the natural environment that were initially valued. Indeed, the very idea of health itself has never been stable; it continually shifts in response to new forms of scientific and cultural awareness. These shifts and turns are of more than academic or cultural curiosity-- the search for health has provided a powerful ideological justification for restructuring landscapes and displacing populations.

On March 26, 2011, Environmental History at Yale welcomed participants from northeastern colleges and universities to a one-day conference featuring innovative environmental history scholarship by doctoral students from seven northeastern universities. 

Three moderated panel sessions explored our conference theme. Our first session examined how ideas of human and landscape health intersect with imperial and state expansionist projects. Our second session explored social conflicts and tensions resulting from efforts to achieve physical and cultural rejuvenation in nature. Our third session considered the relationship between scientific expertise, ideology and governmental efforts to create healthy environments. A faculty panel featuring Joyce Chaplin (Harvard), James McCann (Boston University), and Christopher Sellers (SUNY-Stony Brook) concluded the day.

The conference schedule is still available. If you would like to receive more information regarding next year's conference as it becomes available, please email

We are grateful to our Co-Sponsors and Supporters:

Edward J. and Dorothy Clarke Kempf Fund

Department of History, Yale University

Honest Tea

Howard R. Lamar Center for the Study of Frontiers and Borders

MacMillan Center at Yale

Program in the History of Science and Medicine

Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies

2011 Conference Organizers:

Ryan Hall

Paul Sabin

Robin Scheffler

"I don't actually consider myself an environmental historian, so this conference was in effect a crash course in the big themes and questions of the field as well as an opportunity to introduce environmental historians to the themes and questions from the fields of history with which I identify. It was also a tremendous opportunity to meet established historians and graduate students from the geographic area for the purposes of forming conference panels and the like in the future. The conversations I had over lunch were invaluable."

                                                             2011 Conference Participant

"The best part of the conference - now that I have attended two years in a row - is getting to see old friends and meet new ones each time. Lunch is always a great time to socialize with colleagues that you never otherwise get to see throughout the year. Everyone is so friendly and casual and there is such a nice, supportive atmosphere here."

                                                             2011 Conference Participant



                                           Click for Conference Poster


To learn about our April 2010 conference, “Social Conflict and Environmental Change,” visit: