Meeting Report: Envirotech in Milan 2019

Lesser scholars might be stymied by coffee shortages and unlighted rooms, but not Envirotechies, who powered through some logistical challenges in Milan to gather both for the traditional Saturday morning breakfast and for a special Envirotech SIG Sunday Workshop. Mille grazie to Kellen Backer and Aleksandra Kobiljski for stepping up, in the absence of the SIG’s official conveners, to ensure that the breakfast and workshop went off smoothly.

At the Saturday breakfast, in addition to the usual round of introductions and passing of the hat, two awards were announced. The Joy Parr Travel Award was given to Nicole Welk-Joerger, who presented a paper at the conference on “Safety by Design: Silo Design in Twentieth-Century United States.” The Joel Tarr Article Prize was given to David Fedman for his article on ““The Ondol Problem and the Politics of Forest Conservation in Colonial Korea.” (Click here for the full Tarr award citation.)

The Sunday workshop featured a series of lightning presentations by Mara Dicenta, Johan Gärdebo, Dolly Jørgensen, Finn Arne Jørgensen, David Pretel, Jenny Leigh Smith, and Eric Hardy. Presentations were followed by a discussion about how to broaden Envirotech’s reach, improve communication, and facilitate participation by those who aren’t able to attend SHOT or ASEH meetings in person — all things we will be working on as Envirotech enters its 20th year. (Our new Twitter account is a first small step).

Click here for the full Sunday workshop program, and see below for a few snapshots from the event.

Envirotech Sunday Workshop at the SHOT meeting in Milan, Oct. 27, 9:30-12:00

The Envirotech SIG will hold a special morning session on Sunday, October 27, at the Palazzo Delle Stelline (Strehler Room) as part of the annual meeting of the Society for the History of Technology.

What: Envirotech Workshop @ SHOT
Where: Palazzo Delle Stelline, Milan, Italy – Room: Strehler
When: 9:30-12:00, October 27, 2019


9:30-11:15: Lightning Round (short 8-minute presentations followed by 7-minute Q&A)

  • Mara Dicenta (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy NY): “More-than-human Postindustrial Landscapes”
  • Johan Gärdebo (KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm): “Environing Technology”
  • Dolly Jørgensen (University of Stavanger)
  • Finn Arne Jørgensen (University of Stavanger): “Wayfinding, Environment and Technology”
  • David Pretel (El Colegio de Mexico, Mexico City / Max Planck Institute): “The Nature of War: Technologies, Environments and Maya Resistance (c. 1847-1901)”
  • Jenny Leigh Smith (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong): “Sandbags: An Object in Envirotech”
  • Eric Hardy (Loyola University): “Dutch Dialogues”

11:15-12:00: State of the Union: Discussion of the future of Envirotech as the Envirotech SIG approaches its 20th anniversary

Workshop conveners: Etienne Benson (University of Pennsylvania) & Aleksandra Kobiljski (French National Research Center – CNRS)

Envirotech co-chairs: John Baeten (Indiana University) & Etienne Benson (University of Pennsylvania)

IMPORTANT: The Sunday Envirotech SIG workshop will be in addition to the traditional Saturday Envirotech breakfast.

For questions contact Aleksandra Kobiljski at

Envirotech Parr Travel award for SHOT in Milan, applications due August 15

The Joy Parr Envirotech Travel Award is a grant of $400 toward the costs of attending the annual meetings of the American Society for Environmental History (ASEH) and the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT). The award is named in honor of the eminent Canadian historian of work, gender, and technology Joy Parr.

Eligibility for the award is limited to those presenting a paper or poster at the meeting addressing the interrelated histories of environment and technology. The grant is available to current graduate students, recent PhDs (within the past three years) and independent scholars. The winner will receive a check for $400 at the Envirotech breakfast meeting at the conference.

Applicants should complete the linked questionnaire and email it along with a 1-page CV to

Applications for the travel grant for the upcoming SHOT conference in Milan, Italy, on October 24-27, 2018, are due by August 15, 2019.

Call for proposals – Envirotech Workshop at SHOT in Milan, 27 October 2019

The Envirotech SIG invites proposals for lightning presentations (8 minutes followed by Q&A) at a special workshop session on Envirotech history to be held at the SHOT conference in Milan on Sunday, 27 October 2019, 9:30am-12:30pm. The workshop will also feature a roundtable discussion on the state of the art in envirotech history.

All subjects are welcome for the lightning presentations, but presenters are especially encouraged to focus on a particular primary source (text, image, object, etc.) that they deem useful for thinking about Envirotech in comparative or global perspective. 

Submissions for the lightning presentations should be sent in the form of a title and abstract (up to 200 words) to Etienne Benson ( and Aleksandra Kobiljski ( by 15 August 2019. Presenters will be notified of decisions by 31 August 2019.

This special Sunday workshop will be in addition to the usual Envirotech breakfast, which will be held on Saturday morning. If you plan to attend both, be sure to check the boxes for both events when registering.

CFP: Technology, Environment and Modern Britain

This is a call for papers for a workshop that will explore the intersections of history of technology and environmental history in modern British contexts. “It can be difficult to write environmental history without paying at least passing attention to technology”, noted Jeffrey K. Stine and Joel A. Tarr over a decade ago, in a ground-breaking survey article, “Conversely, it can also be difficult to write technological history without touching on some environmental element”. This entanglement has remained the case even as both historical specialties have explored an increasing diversity of technologies and environments. Yet it is also true to say that both specialties have taken different, perhaps more expansive, trajectories in the United States and continental Europe than in Britain, both as a location for writing and as a topic of study.

We are inspired by a number of exciting investigations. For example, Harriet Ritvo located the dawn of modern environmentalism in the conflict to secure Thirlmere in the Lake District for Manchester’s technological system of water supply; Richard Grove, on the other hand, identifies British imperial contexts in his answer to the same question. While historians of the sea, space and polar regions have explored life-preserving, unmistakeably technologically-mediated environments, technologies also frame all aspects of British encounters with nature and environment. Wilderness, however, is not our theme: from Arthur Tansley’s opening observation in The British Islands and their Vegetation (1939), that his topic was thoroughly “semi-natural”, through Oliver Rackham’s distinctive insistence on the human-made history of woodland, there has been recognition of the deep artificiality of British environments. In the nineteenth and especially twentieth centuries, the industrialisation of organisms, for food, sewage and materials, has gathered pace. What are their histories? Bill Luckin has traced the environmental histories of London’s air and river, but what are the histories of intersections between urban technology and environment in other cities? With the motorcar, did the contrast between city and countryside, the cultural power of which was dissected so well by Raymond Williams, falter? One kind of answer might be found in the rich history explored by David Matless, for one country, in Landscape and Englishness. There are histories of environment and technology from above (Kitty Hauser’s Bloody Old Britain) and below (Ted Nield, Underlands).

This intersection of subjects will necessarily draw on studies from different scholarly specialties: general history, the cluster around the crossroads of “Science and Technology Studies” (STS, including the history and sociology of science and technology), historical geography, and environmental history. This call for papers recognises this fact, while seeking to focus discussion productively by asking for papers that satisfy all three of the following criteria: a) papers that take a primarily historical approach, b) papers that focus on Britain, broadly understood, and c) papers that discuss both technology and environment.

Possible subjects include, but are not restricted to:

  • Technological systems and their environments. Technological systems (in Thomas P. Hughes’s sense), include: networks of light and power, water, sewerage, communication, roads, rail and flight
  • Urban environments, artificial/natural
  • Industrialised organisms in countryside and city
  • Domestication of nature and technology
  • Evolutionary history (in Edmund Russell’s sense) of modern Britain
  • Infrastructures and pathogens, air and pollution, gardens and weeds
  • Bureaucracy (the ‘Government Machine’), nature and conservation
  • Maintenance
  • Agency as a historiographical issue in history of technology and environmental history
  • Comparative national (and transnational) historiographies of technology/environment as steps towards a critical historiography of the technologies and environments of modern Britain

Technology, Environment and Modern Britain will take place at UCL on Wednesday 27 April 2016. Registration will be free.

We invite proposals for thirty-minute papers. Proposals of no more than 350 words, together with the name and institutional affiliation of the speaker should be sent to Jacob Ward at The closing date for submissions is 1 December 2015.

The workshop is convened by Jon Agar, Professor of Science and Technology Studies, UCL and Jacob Ward, Doctoral Candidate, UCL/The Science Museum.

Kind regards,

Jon Agar and Jacob Ward

CFP: The 7th Tensions of Europe Conference – Technology and Environment

The 7th Tensions of Europe Conference
Stockholm, 3-6 September 2015
Conference theme: Technology and Environment

The 7th Tensions Of Europe Conference will have as its main theme the interaction between technology and the environment. One way of understanding the environment is to think of it as nature appropriated by humankind through technological, scientific and representational means. From farming to space travel, we use technologies and natural resources to sustain our lives. Our use of technologies leaves traces behind in the form of altered environments. Changes at global historical and geological scales are accumulated as heritage and geophysical strata respectively. The intersection of technology and the environment can also be understood culturally or socially. We use technology in our understanding and appreciation of nature (religious, poetic or physical), in monitoring it, assessing it representing it. Further, technology can be a lens and a tool in shaping our relation to the environment. Technologies not only assist in shaping and transforming nature, they also assist us to perceive, observe, record and communicate natures and environments, including imaginative representations of techno-natures in art, literature and film.

The conference also invites scholarship in the general themes of the Tensions of Europe network, such as trans-border flows, common resources, conflicting interests, hidden integration and cultural practices.

We not only invite traditional panel‐sessions with a number of papers and a commentator, but also strongly encourage different formats and new ideas. As long as quality can be demonstrated, the programme committee will not prioritize between formats. By quality we mean suggestions that promise constructive, stimulating and engaging discussion.

We invite scholars from all relevant fields to submit proposals to:


by 15 February 2015. All proposals should include a title, a short abstract, the academic title and affiliation of the applicant(s) and a short bio. Please name your file with your surname. Abstracts for individual papers and posters should be no more than 300 words.

For panels, we ask for a description of the theme of the panel (max 300 words) together with shorter abstracts (max 150 words) of the individual papers. If you wish to suggest a presentation of a different format, please use these word limits as guidelines.

We will inform applicants by 1 April 2015 Whether their contribution has been accepted. A second call for papers, with information about keynote speakers and the conference website, will be distributed before the end of 2014.

Welcome to Stockholm in September 2015!

Nina Wormbs Head Of Division Of History Of Science, Technology And Environment KTH Royal Institute of Technology

CFP: Transplanting Modernity: the Environmental Legacy of International Development

June 23-24, 2015

Washington, DC Area

Conveners: Tom Robertson of Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and Jenny Leigh Smith of the Georgia Institute of Technology

This two-day, NSF sponsored workshop will focus on the environmental impact technological modernization and other forms of development assistance had in the Global South during the twentieth century. Historians and other scholars interested in science, technology and environmental change will gather in the Washington DC area June 23-24, immediately before the Society for the History of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR) Conference in Washington, DC. Conference papers of 5000-7000 words will be pre-circulated among workshop participants. Conference papers may be included in an edited volume that will be assembled after the conference. Continue reading

CFP: Green Capitalism? Exploring the Crossroads of Environmental and Business History

A conference October 30 and 31, 2014, at the Hagley Museum and Library in Wilmington, Delaware sponsored by the Center for the History of Business, Technology and Society and the German Historical Institute – DC.

This conference hopes to point to fresh opportunities for joining the insights of environmental and business history. We are especially interested in providing historical perspectives on a question of obvious relevance today: Can capitalism be green – or at least greener? Our title – “Green Capitalism?” – is admittedly drawn from contemporary discourse. But we are convinced that history can provide invaluable insights into the complex and changing relationship between business and the environment.

We invite papers that consider in specific historical contexts the extent to which the business enterprises that are central to capitalism operated in an environmentally sound or detrimental manner by the way they dealt with their refuse, by managing their use of resources, and mitigating or ignoring any harmful impact on those who handled their products or are affected by their waste. Though business activities have had many deleterious environmental consequences, businesses sometimes have acted to protect the environment, reduce their direct and indirect environmental impact, and promote environmental reform in society. That is true now, but it also was sometimes the case long before the rise of modern environmentalism.

Papers can take many forms. We expect that many papers will focus on the history of particular firms. Others may analyze historical controversies about the use of resources or the cultural, political, and environmental factors that have shaped how business treats the environment. Given the global nature of business activity and environmental concerns, we encourage papers that take a transnational perspective on these issues. The papers may address any area of the world in the industrial era, roughly after 1800.

Papers might consider, among others, the following questions:

  • In what instances, and in what ways, has business mitigated pollution and other harmful environmental impacts, for what reasons and objectives, and in what political, economic, and social contexts?
  • What were the intended and unintended consequences of the innovations instituted by businesses to mitigate their impact on the environment?
  • Why and in what context has business or business organizations advocated for government regulation of environmental conditions?
  • When, and in what specific episodes, have there been conflicts among businesses and business sectors over environmental and energy issues?
  • When and why have businesses sought to encourage changes in consumer behavior that have environmental implications?
  • In what ways have business interests drawn on or adapted environmental concerns to their business strategies?
  • How has privatization of resource allocation functions once reserved for public agencies (e.g. energy distribution, water procurement) influenced engagement with environmental issues by business?
  • How has the globalization of business activity affected the terrain of environmental concerns: where products are made, used, regulated, and discarded or recycled?
  • How has the location of environmental and resource concerns in local, regional, national, or international contexts influenced business initiatives?
  • How have business initiatives around the environment been shaped by local and national conditions, regulatory regimes, legal institutions, and/or political culture?

The program committee includes: Adam Rome (University of Delaware), Yda Schreuder (University of Delaware), Hartmut Berghoff (German Historical Institute), Erik Rau (Hagley Museum and Library), and Roger Horowitz (Hagley Museum and Library).

Proposals may be up to 500 words in length, and should include a summary of the paper’s argument, the sources on which it draws, and the larger historiographic context or contemporary debates with which it engages. A short c.v. or resume should accompany the proposal. The deadline for receipt of proposals is May 1, 2014 and should be sent via email to Carol Lockman, Presenters will receive travel support to cover most costs to attend the conference.

Envirotech Travel Grant – ASEH 2014

The Envirotech Special Interest Group is pleased to announce a $400 travel grant for the upcoming 2014 ASEH conference. Eligibility for the award is limited to those presenting a paper addressing the interrelated histories of environment and technology at the upcoming ASEH meeting in San Francisco, CA, March 12-16, 2014. The grant is available to current graduate students, recent Ph.D.s (earned within three years) and independent scholars. The application is due by Monday, December 16, 2013. The winner will receive a check for $400 at the Envirotech breakfast meeting during the conference.

Applicants should complete this form, and email it along with a one or two page C.V. to Any questions should be addressed to Chair, Envirotech Travel Grant, and submitted by email to

Envirotech Travel Grant Application – SHOT 2013

The Envirotech Interest Group is pleased to announce a $400 travel grant for the upcoming SHOT conference in Portland, ME. Eligibility for the award is limited to those presenting a paper addressing the interrelated histories of environment and technology at the 2013 SHOT meeting in Portland (10-13 October 2013). Those who have completed their Ph.D. more than three years prior and are fully employed are not eligible. Independent scholars are eligible regardless of the date the Ph.D. was received. This application must be received by Monday, September 2nd, 2013. The winner will receive a check for $400 at the Envirotech meeting during the conference.

Applicants should complete this form, and email it along with their C.V. to Any questions should be addressed to Chair, Envirotech Travel Grant, and submitted by email to