Seeing the Woods

A blog by the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society


Leave a comment

Danube: Environments, Histories, and Cultures

A Place-Based Workshop

4–11 June 2017

days

Route along the Danube. Photo modified from David McGregor, CC BY-SA 2.0

Winding through Central and Eastern Europe, the once longstanding frontier of the Roman empire, the Danube, has carved its way into the landscapes and cultures of the countries it traverses. But the marks of humans, imprints of the Anthropocene, are also clearly visible on the river itself—and on the ecologies and landscapes surrounding it. By uncovering and reading landmarks across time and place, the interactions between societies and rivers can be recounted from different perspectives as multifaceted environmental histories.

The place-based workshop “Danube: Environments, Histories, and Cultures” was the second event of a collaborative research project on rivers organized by the Rachel Carson Center and the Center for Culture, History and Environment at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (the first event took place in 2016 along the Mississippi). The excursion saw a group of professors and graduate students from the US, Germany, and Austria, follow the course of the Danube from Munich to Bratislava. On the way, they explored the world’s most international river from many different, transdisciplinary perspectives. They met with more than a dozen environmental experts and, integrating approaches from disciplines like hydrology, international relations, economics, geography, ecology and conservation, environmental history, and civil engineering, they asked how the river has shaped the lives of humans and how humans have shaped the river.

A kickoff event was hosted at the Rachel Carson Center on Sunday 4 June, 2017. After a general welcome and introductions, Wolfram Mauser gave a talk on “Climate Change and the Danube—the River and its Future.”  Over dinner, participants had a chance to get (re)acquainted and discuss the upcoming trip.

Follow this blog series over the next few weeks to read a post about each day of the trip and the environmental histories uncovered. The posts have been written by students from the RCC’s Environmental Studies Certificate Program who took part in the excursion.

The first installment, “Day 1. Munich–Deggendorf” will be out next Friday!


Leave a comment

CfA: Student Assistant at the RCC

The Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society (RCC) is an international, interdisciplinary research institute located in central Munich. It was founded in 2009 as a joint initiative of LMU Munich (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität) and the Deutsches Museum. The working language of the Center is English. At any given time, the RCC is home to around twenty-five visiting scholars from across the globe, as well as an international team of staff who manage academic programs, publications, communications, events, and finances.

The RCC is looking for a student in any humanities subject to assist the work of the center on a part-time basis. Student assistants work between 8–12 hours per week as part of a small team. Duties include library service (supporting our international visiting fellows with library access, photocopying, etc.); assisting at conferences, workshops, and other events; processing outgoing mail; staffing the RCC front desk and library; and various other duties related to the day-to-day work of our busy research institute. Student assistants are an integral part of our community of scholars and have the opportunity to attend our lunchtime colloquia, workshops, social events, and make use of the academic resources at the center.

Successful candidates must have an excellent command of the English language as well as a good knowledge of German. Applicants must be currently enrolled in a degree program at a Bavarian university; those who have completed a Master’s (or equivalent) are not eligible for this position. Applicants should enjoy working as part of a team, be well organized and able to work independently, and be interested in working with colleagues of diverse cultural backgrounds. Computer literacy and a good knowledge of the Munich library (BSB and UB) systems are required; knowledge of other foreign languages and/or an interest in environmental issues would be advantageous.

Working hours are flexible, but occasional availability on the weekend for events is a necessity. Student assistants are paid in line with the standard tarif for studentische Hilfskräfte. Contracts will be awarded for six months with the possibility of extension.

To apply, please send your CV, cover letter, and the contact information of two references as one pdf to jobs@rcc.lmu.de by 21 July 2017. Interviews will be conducted in the week of 24 July 2017 with the position starting on 1 September 2017.


Leave a comment

CfA: General Operations Internships at the RCC

The RCC is currently looking for interns to start in September 2017.

The deadline for the September internship has been extended to 14 July 2017.  

Since its founding in 2009, the Rachel Carson Center has become one of the world’s most prominent and relevant research centers in the environmental humanities. Our mission is to advance research and discussion on the interrelationship between humans and nature. We contribute to public and scholarly debates about past transformations and future challenges in environment and society, harnessing the interpretative power of the humanities (and social sciences) to contextualize technologies, economies, and policies.

Continue reading


Leave a comment

Knowing Nature: The Changing Foundations of Environmental Knowledge

Conference Report (Beijing, China, 25–27 May 2017)

By Katrin Kleemann

Day01-03

Photo: Katrin Kleemann.

Historians like traditions and they like to invent them. Helmuth Trischler, director of the Rachel Carson Center and head of research at the Deutsches Museum, made this remark as he looked back at the conference’s five-year history. In May 2017, international scholars came together in China for the fifth time since 2012 to discuss environmental history. Jointly organized by the Center for Ecological History (CEH), the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG), and the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society (RCC), the conference took place in Beijing at the Renmin University of China from 25 to 27 May. Its 24 participants came from North and South America, Africa, Europe, and of course Asia.

The opening ceremony included welcoming remarks by several prominent faculty members of Renmin University: Vice President Dayong Hong; Xingtao Huang, dean of the School of History; and Mingfang Xia, director of the CEH and a senior professor in the School of History. Shen Hou, deputy director of the CEH and associate professor of history at the university, provided translations both during the opening ceremony and throughout the conference. Continue reading


Leave a comment

Snapshot: Where Geology Meets Early Modern History

A Millstone Quarry in Upper Bavaria

By Katrin Kleemann

 

colllage2

Photographs by Katrin Kleemann, CC BY 4.0. 

The Mühlsteinbruch Hinterhör in Altenbeuren, Upper Bavaria—this millstone quarry was the first stop on a recent LMU geology field trip to the Northern Limestone Alps. The site is an official geotope of Bavaria (geotope means “Earth place” and refers to a spot in nature where the Earth’s history becomes visible). At this unique spot you can learn about the area’s early modern history as well as its geology; this is one of very few geotopes that was formed by humans.

Between 1572 and 1860, the quarry was used to produce millstones for the surrounding mills (which were transported on the nearby river Inn), explaining the characteristic round shapes that can be seen at this outcrop. But without the perks of modern technology, how did the quarry workers extract the circular millstones? Using a chisel and hammer to create the outlines of the round shape, they would drive wooden wedges into these circular borders and water the wedges regularly causing the wood to expand and fracture the rock, freeing the millstone from the wall.

Yet it is not just these insights into the innovative techniques used by people in the past that are revealed; this spot is also particularly interesting from a geological perspective. The 28-meter-thick layer is mainly made up of sandstone and marlstone, and belongs to the Helvetic Nappes; sheet-like bodies of rock that were once located in the shallow waters of the southern margin of the European continental shelf, created before the Alps were formed. During the formation of the Alpine mountains, the Helvetic Nappes (layers) were thrust northward and upward, deformed by the continued folding during the Cretaceous and Paleogene periods, explaining why a once-seabed is now found more than 500 meters above sea level. Fossilized oysters with thick shells can be found there, indicating that this spot must have once been located either in shallow water or perhaps at a river delta. The oyster shells had to be thick survive the pressure of strong tidal currents in the coastal waters.

 


Leave a comment

Household Consumption and Environmental Change in the Twentieth Century

30–31 May 2017, Bologna, Italy

In May 2017, the University of Bologna’s Department of History and Culture hosted a workshop entitled “Household Consumption and Environmental Change in the Twentieth Century.” The workshop was co-convened by RCC alumnus Giacomo Parrinello (Sciences Po, Paris) and professor of contemporary history Paolo Capuzzo (University of Bologna). The event was co-sponsored by the RCC and the University of Bologna. Twelve scholars from the US, Germany, and Italy convened to discuss the links between consumer culture (and practices) in the household and ecological transformations on multiple spatial and temporal scales.

By Giacomo Parrinello

Rikki_Chan

The papers, all pre-circulated in advance, were grouped into three panels: food and the kitchen, household technologies, and energy and the home. The three panels were preceded by an introduction by the conveners, which presented the central concern of the workshop: the apparent contradiction between awareness of negative ecological impact of mass consumption and the affects and identities embedded in consumer practices. Continue reading


1 Comment

Worldview: Iran Hosts Second International Seminar on Environment, Culture, and Religion (Part 2)

International Efforts to Mobilize Religions in the Cause of Conservation

Part 2. The Seminar: Premises, and Intentions

Critical action is needed by the international community to address urgent and increasing environmental degradation, and related challenges of social and economic unsustainability. Religion and culture can significantly address climate change, biodiversity and ecosystem loss, pollution, deforestation, desertification and unsustainable land and water use, and other urgent issues identified in a shared vision by all nations in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (UNEP, Environment, Religion and Culture in the Context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, 2016: vi).

These were the main premises and objectives of the Second International Seminar on Environment, Culture, and Religion held in Tehran in 2016. In Part 2 Bron Taylor reports on the event and reflects on the Iranian government’s position on religion and environmental issues, particularly focusing on the introductory speech by the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran.


BronTaylor_seminar_poster

The seminar poster welcoming participants (Photo: Bron Taylor).

The Words of Hasan Rouhani, the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran

The initial morning of the seminar provided a fascinating blend of pageantry and politics. The session began with a recitation of the Holy Qur’an, the Iranian National Anthem, and included remarks from the Executive Director of UNEP and the deputy Director General of UNESCO. Most striking was the importance high Iranian officials placed on (expressing) their commitment to environmental protection and the UN’s sustainable development goals. Masoumeh Ebtekar, the first female Vice President of Iran and the head of the country’s Department of the Environment, for example, was present throughout the conference, expressing on several occasions her understanding that Islam demands environmental protection.[i]

Continue reading