Seeing the Woods

A blog by the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society


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The Future of Wild Europe

Conference Report (The University of Leeds, UK, 12–14 September 2016)

By Roger Norum

A version of this report was first published  17 October 2016 on ENHANCE ITN.


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This three-day conference was the first of three large events for the ENHANCE ITN (The Environmental Humanities for a Concerned Europe Innovative Training Network), a three-year Marie Skłodowska-Curie doctoral research program convened by the University of Leeds, the Rachel Carson Center at LMU Munich, and KTH Royal Institute of Technology. Because ENHANCE is an inherently interdisciplinary project, we decided to organize the conference around a theme that would not just appeal to both social scientists and humanities scholars, but that would also showcase current research by young and emerging scholars across disparate fields, while also questioning the configurations of the very categories and concepts we use to talk about the environment in the context of a changing Europe—and beyond. Continue reading

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Cycling Cities: An Interview with Ruth Oldenziel

Cycling Cities: The European Experience was recently published by the Foundation for the History of Technology and the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society. Edited by Ruth Oldenziel, Martin Emanuel, Adri Albert de la Bruhèze, and Frank Veraart, the book explores 100 years of urban cycling policy, use, and practice in 14 European cities. We sat down with visiting scholar and former Carson fellow Ruth Oldenziel (RO), to discuss this wonderful addition to the cycling discourse.

SR: You recently published Cycling Cities. What prompted the idea for the book?

RO: I was invited for the 400th anniversary between Amsterdam and New York, and there was a bike slam. This was at a time in 2009 when Mayor Bloomberg was establishing a cycling policy as part of economic growth and a livable city. And the people at the bike slam were asking the Dutch, “How do you do it?” and the advisors and consultants really couldn’t explain. They sort of said “Well, we just do it.” I had colleagues at the time who had published what was, up until that time during the 90s, the comparative study—historical study—on cycling in these different cities, but it was in Dutch. And there was one graph which was floating around the internet, and people were quoting it without having read the report. So that’s how it started out; I just wanted to be a facilitator of making this accessible to an English-speaking world… I got so fascinated with the topic. Initially, we were translating it but it became a much bigger project, with more cities and more people coming in. An international team. Attractive pictures and captions, so yeah, that’s how it started. Continue reading


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Making Tracks: Ellen Arnold

In the “Making Tracks” series, RCC fellows and alumni present their experiences in environmental humanities, retracing the paths that led them to the Rachel Carson Center. For more information, please click here.

Academic Platypus, or “How I Became a Medieval Historian in Six Easy Steps”
By Ellen Arnold

The project that I am pursuing at the Rachel Carson Center on medieval cultural and religious ideas about river systems brings me back in an unusual way to my first year of college, when I wanted to study river ecosystems in the hope of someday becoming a marine ecologist. It’s admittedly a long way from there to medieval historian, and I was delighted to spend my time at the RCC remembering all the reasons why I was so fascinated by water ecosystems, and also all the reasons why I was ultimately drawn to history and the environmental humanities in the first place.

As a college freshman, whose high school heroes had included Jacques Cousteau, Carl Sagan, Bob Ballard, and then-Senator Al Gore (interestingly, I had not yet been exposed to the work or life of Rachel Carson, who I now realize fits quite naturally into this group—perhaps telling of the curriculum of my high school science courses), I was eager to make my mark in the ecological sciences, and to begin a career that would let me work with marine and aquatic ecosystems, turning my fascination for the exploration of the sea and space towards an environmental purpose. As a budding scientist, I thought that meant politically- and ecologically-minded scientific work; what I didn’t yet realize was that another thing that bound all of these figures together was not just science, but also a deep sense of the role of people in science; of the power of outreach and storytelling; and an appreciation of the power of history and human culture. Continue reading


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Colloquia Videos Roundup

The RCC Lunchtime Colloquium series allows fellows of the Rachel Carson Center to present their research to other fellows, to staff, and to the general public. Over the last month we have been trialling a livestream of the talks to make them available to a wider audience. The videos are subsequently uploaded to our youtube channel. Below are three of the talks from July.

If you are interested in watching more of this series (which will restart later this year), please keep an eye on our facebook and twitter pages for information on the streams and uploads. We are always looking to improve the process, so if you have any feedback, please let us know in the comments. Continue reading