Monthly Archives: April 2016

Friday, 15 April 2016 — 4:00 pm — GAR 0.102

Conevery Bolton Valencius, Univ. of Massachusetts-Boston

“Earthquakes, Fracking, and Public Perception of Science”

What can we—as residents, as taxpayers, as voters, or as scholars—make of recent tremors that have shaken formerly quiet terrain in mid-continent? How can we evaluate energy technologies in the context of rapidly-emerging and contentious science? I suggest that frameworks of the history of science can help sort out elements of public discussion and political debate about “frackquakes”: earthquakes increasingly linked with hydraulic fracturing and its associated waste technologies.


Conevery Bolton Valencius (CON-a-very va-LEN-chus) is the author of The Health of the Country (Basic Books, 2002), which won the George Perkins Marsh Book Prize from the American Society for Environmental History, and The Lost History of the New Madrid Earthquakes (University of Chicago Press, 2013), about a series of great earthquakes along the Mississippi two hundred years ago. She teaches and writes at the University of Massachusetts-Boston. Next year, she’ll move to Boston College and will continue her work on induced seismicity and fracking during a fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute.


Friday, 15 April 2016 — 12:00 noon — WAG 316

Brett Bennett, Univ. of Western Sydney and Univ. of Johannesburg

“Doing Interdisciplinary Environmental History: Opportunities and Challenges”

How can historians utilize disciplinary insights from the sciences and social sciences when writing environmental history? Brett’s talk will focus on two different models of interdisciplinary environmental history: collaborations with scientists and single-authored scholarship for historical and scientific audiences. There are many opportunities—larger audiences, policy impact, increased funding—associated with this type of history but there are challenges, particularly the danger of dilettantism and superficiality, possible career pitfalls, and disillusionment with history.


Brett Bennett earned his PhD in History from UT in 2010 and is now a Senior Lecturer in History at Western Sydney University in Australia and a Senior Research Associate in History at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa. He is the author of Plantations and Protected Areas: A Global History of Forest Management (MIT Press, 2015) and, with Fred Kruger, of Forestry and Water Conservation in South Africa: History, Science and Policy (ANU Press, 2015). His ongoing research utilizes insights from the history of science, environmental history, and the sciences.