History and Sustainability:
Environmental History and Education for Sustainable Development
University of East Anglia, Elizabeth Fry Building
10th January 2009, 9.30am-5.00pm
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’. Sustainability, after all, is concerned with the passage of things in time - precisely the specialism of historians. They can also bring critical perspectives to why ‘sustainability’ has become an issue at a particular point in time, and the background to the thinking that has produced it.
This meeting featured presentations and discussions on current developments in environmental history, and how they might relate to sustainability debates and policy, and the role of history in wider education about sustainability at all levels both within and without the formal education system. It aimed to bring together specialists in the field to discuss their results and practice, along with those new to the discipline and working in related fields, and history education more broadly.