Since the report of the Brundtland Commission in 1987, the idea of ‘Sustainable development’ or ‘Sustainability’ has become increasingly prominent across the globe, applied and discussed at a trans-national, international, national, regional and community level. Yet historians have as yet contributed relatively little to these debates, despite the emergence since the 1970s of Environmental History as an increasingly important strand of the discipline.

Historians of all places and periods have, however, much to contribute to our knowledge of the human experience in attempting to live ‘sustainably’. This site and project provides resources and links to those interested in more closely learning from, and enriching the humanities and history in particular in our understanding of the long history and possibly long future of human and environmental interactions.

‘Sustainability’ and the ‘Environment’ are themselves ideas that have their own history. Where did they come from and why have they become so widely used now? What can we learn from their emergence and the assumptions that have gone with them? Have many societies produced analogous concepts and debates or are they preoccupations only of very specific political, economic, cultural and social contexts? Have humans generally disdained to sustain – or if they have sought to do so, what have they aspired to sustain?

The History and Sustainability project seeks to bring together environmental, economic and social historians, historians of political thought, anthropologists and others to address these questions.

The project also seeks to build links between different educational providers within and without academia, in developing the study of History and Sustainability.

The History and Sustainability project has developed out of the Documenting Environmental Change project which ran between 1999 and 2007. Both have emerged from colloquia held at the University of Cambridge.

The menu provides an easy guide around the project's resources, including a register of current research projects, extensive bibliographical information on related themes, an events page, and on-line resources and papers.

History and Sustainability is based at the Centre for History and Economics at King's College, Cambridge, and is part of the Common Security Forum programme on Environmental Security. The project is generously supported with a grant from The Rockefeller Foundation.


©  2008 Centre for History and Economics