Seeing the Woods

A blog by the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society


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Worldview: Regressive Research Policy in Argentina

By Samantha Rothbart

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The National Scientific and Technical Research Council is in trouble. This was in the email sent to the RCC blog team by Carson alumna María Valeria Berros on 21st December 2016. She was standing alongside her fellow colleagues and scientists in Santa Fe, in dialogue with research fellows all over the country—particularly outside of the Ministry of Science in Buenos Aires—and describing the dramatic events as they unfolded.  The Council (Concejo Nacional de Investigaciones en Ciencia y Tecnología—CoNICeT) ordinarily consolidates all funding related to research in the country, from PhD scholarships to postdocs, research and travel grants, and, crucially, the carrera del investigador—a permanent researcher position. With certain exceptions, research and higher education institutions do not have their own research budgets, but their staff is funded via CoNICeT. “With budget cuts, social sciences and humanities will be the first to suffer the effects, as usual,” Berros said. Continue reading


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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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CfA: Doctoral Program Environment and Society

Call for Candidates: Doctoral Program in Environment and Society at LMU Munich, Germany

The Doctoral Program in Environment and Society invites applications from graduates in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences who wish to research the complex relationships between environment and society within an interdisciplinary setting. Our program is based at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, a joint initiative of LMU Munich and the Deutsches Museum. The Rachel Carson Center is an
international center for research and education in the environmental humanities and social sciences: its mission is to advance research and discussion concerning the interrelationship between humans and nature.

The Rachel Carson Center and its partner institutions ensure that all doctoral students have access to a lively research community of international and interdisciplinary scholars. All doctoral students have a permanent workspace at the RCC or the Deutsches Museum, a program of regular colloquia, workshops, and talks by visiting academics; excellent supervision by members of the academic board; and a sociable and diverse peer group.  Continue reading


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CfA: RCC Researcher in Residence

The Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society (RCC) is pleased to announce the creation of one or more Researcher in Residence positions starting at the earliest in January 2017. These positions are designed for postdocs or inter-disciplinary scholars who have a project that falls within the RCC’s research field of Environment and Society.

The Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society (RCC) is an international, interdisciplinary center for research and education in the environmental humanities and social sciences. The RCC was founded in 2009 as a joint initiative of Munich’s Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Deutsches Museum, and it is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

Researcher in Residence positions will be remunerated for up to nine months; the salary is designed to finance the applicant’s residence at the RCC during this period to work exclusively on the development of the research project and grant application. The position is designed with the procurement of one of the following (or similar) grants in mind:

  • ERC Starting Grants
  • DFG Emmy Noether Independent Junior Research Groups
  • BMBF Junior Research Groups
  • Sofja Kovalevskaja Awards of the Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation
  • Volkswagen “Freigeist” Fellowships
  • Major Grants of the Leverhulme Trust
  • DFG Eigene Stelle Grants

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Cocaine, Schizophrenia, and Nuclear Reactors: Life as an RCC Editor

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By Brenda Black

Our work as editors at the RCC requires us to be generalists (because of the wide variety of topics encountered), but also capable of interpreting highly specialized texts (because it is impossible to edit what one does not understand).

For one issue of Perspectives, my google search history included: cocaine, schizophrenia, bottlenecking, sermons, Hitler, synapses, placebo effects, Hume, slave rebellions, and peacocks. For other articles, I have found myself researching topics such as: How does a nuclear reactor work, or, more mundanely, how do automobile engines work. Another time I desperately wished I had taken a course in organic chemistry so that I could understand a discussion of industrial chemicals, and yet another article had me researching different agricultural methods such as no-till farming.

One of the most interesting and challenging articles I have edited was concerned with palynology, the study of pollen, something I hadn’t known even existed. This scientific field can provide intriguing insights into environments of the past through analysis of the pollen contained in the sediments of bogs and other natural archives. Used in combination with archaeological records and geochemical analysis of metals in the environment, palynology can help us reconstruct the history of human activities such as agriculture and mining. Continue reading


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Notes From the Field

By Jessica DeWitt

Originally published for the University of Kentucky Political Ecology Group

Outsider. Insider. My academic journey thus far often seems like a tightrope act between these two desires. My background and passion for state parks and nature has led me to become an environmental historian who focuses on parks. My dissertation is a comparative history of the development and management of state and provincial parks in the United States and Canada. I grew up “one mile up the hill, South on Route 36” from Cook Forest State Park in Western Pennsylvania. My parents owned rental cabins for over twenty years. Our cabins were authentic relics of an earlier era, built by hand from trees felled on the property in the 1920s. Rejecting the common path their middle-class backgrounds had paved for them, my parents took the cabins over after years of neglect in the early 1980s. My childhood was admittedly idyllic and largely spent meandering through the woods, alone with just myself, my dogs, and my nature. Even as a youngster I understood the deep divide that stood between my family and our renters; our tight knit community of small business owners and the droves of tourists; the insiders and outsiders. Continue reading