Seeing the Woods

A blog by the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society


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Day 1. The Danube Excursion: Munich—Deggendorf

Written by David Stäblein


Munich —> Winzer —> Mühlham —> Deggendorf


The bus ride from Munich to Deggendorf along the Isar river

The landscape en route from Munich to Deggendorf is dominated by the flat valley of the river Isar. The river has carried a lot of material from the Alps to the lower part of the river near Deggendorf. This is the reason the soil here consists of an eight-meter-thick layer of river sediment. The Isar valley is surrounded by hills, in a landscape where erodible brown soil has been heavily deposited. The colluvium from this landscape, combined with the river sediments, makes the area the perfect place for agriculture (primarily sugar beet and corn). The Mühlbogental is an area near Deggendorf which has become the focus of concentrated industry; here lies a paper mill, as well as a BMW production site that was built on subsidies to discourage migration out of the region.

To the south of Deggendorf the Isar flows into the Danube (Donau in German), which was, in former days, only constrained in its meandering by the Bavarian Forest (a cool, infertile, and mountainous range dominated by gneiss) in the north east. Today, many dikes bound the naturally wandering landscape of the Danube, and the ancient current is limited by a row of hydropower plants spanning the whole of the Danube’s course through Bavaria. Together, the hydropower plants in Bavaria produce around 15 percent of Germany’s electricity supply. All the best spots for these plants have been occupied, which means that the expansion of hydropower is only possible if the plants become more efficient (to reach the goal of 17 percent). The flood defenses around Deggendorf were first installed in the 18th century and have since been expanded and modernized. Throughout the year (especially around June and August) numerous small flood events (below HQ 30) hit the area, but the dikes and polders usually prevent severe damage to surrounding communities. Continue reading

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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. Continue reading


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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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