Seeing the Woods

A blog by the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society


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Danube: Environments, Histories, and Cultures

A Place-Based Workshop

4–11 June 2017

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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!


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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.


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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.

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Worldview: Iran Hosts Second International Seminar on Environment, Culture, and Religion (Part 1)

International Efforts to Mobilize Religions in the Cause of Conservation

Part 1. Tehran

“Religion is a powerful social force and for decades diverse actors who understand this have been engaged in earnest efforts to motivate and mobilize religious individuals and groups to construct environmentally sustainable societies. Although broad evidence suggests that these efforts have had limited success promoting the greening of religion so far, attempts are continuing. Given the often slow and multifarious ways that religions can change in time and place, it would be premature to predict the outcomes of such endeavors.” — Bron Taylor

In this two-part series, Bron Taylor reflects on such possibilities from the context of a trip to Iran in April 2016. In Part 1, he introduces us to Tehran and his experiences of contemporary culture and the troubled interface of religion, young culture, and the environment. Part 2 reports on the Second International Seminar on Environment, Culture, and Religion (Tehran, 2016), which was sponsored by UNEP, UNESCO, and the Department of the Environment of the Islamic Republic of Iran. This series has been adapted from a conference report originally published in the Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture.


In late April, 2016, I was among those who took the first direct flight (after a trial run) from Paris to Tehran after the sanctions were lifted that had been imposed on Iran to discourage it from pursuing nuclear weaponry. I sat next to an attorney who, in 1970, fled Iran with her family to Paris when the Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, was overthrown during the Iranian revolution. She now has offices in Paris and Tehran, and is taking advantage of the emerging post-sanction opportunities.

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