The Centre's work on Environmental Security began in 1994. Research has covered the topics of environment, refugees and democracy, environmental history, and environmental and human security. From 2007 a research project is being developed on 'History and Sustainability', examining historical antecedents and resonances to contemporary ideas about sustainability and resilience, and providing resources to link the humanities and sustainability studies. It is co-ordinated by Paul Warde (University of East Anglia). These projects are supported by dedicated web sites: www.historyandsustainability.org and www.envdoc.org.
This one-day event, History and Sustainability: Environmental History and Education for Sustainable Development, was organised as part of the History and Sustainability project at the Centre and took place in University of East Anglia, Elizabeth Fry Building, on 10 January 2009. The meeting, organised by Paul Warde, 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.
The Harvard Center for History and Economics and the Center for the Environment at Harvard University jointly organized a meeting on the history of sustainability on 31 October 2008 in the Lower Library of Robinson Hall. Participants and speakers included David Blackbourn, Alison Frank, Emma Rothschild, Paul Warde (University of East Anglia), and Sverker Sörlin (Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm).
A conference on History and Sustainability, organised by Paul Warde, was held on 6-7 September 2007 in the Centre for the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH). It provided a number of perspectives on the contribution historians can make to contemporary debates about sustainability and examined the following themes: International developments in the teaching of environmental history; current directions and debates within environmental history; historical ideas of sustainability; the role of history in educating for sustainable development in higher and pre-university education. Contributors included Rupert Brakspear, Vinita Damodaran, Brigid Hains, Poul Holm, Melissa Lane, Stephen Mosley, Jose Augusto Padua, Libby Robin, Sverker Sörlin and Paul Warde.
A two-day conference entitled Uses of Environmental History: Cross Disciplinary Conversations took place at CRASSH on 13-14 January 2006. The conference aimed to provide some space to reflect on the achievements, diversity, and direction of environmental history, especially in its varied national, international and continental contexts. Further details are available on the conference web site.
A one-day colloquium on the Uses of Environmental History, organised by Sverker Sörlin and Paul Warde, took place in Pembroke College on 14 May 2005 and aimed to bring a wide range of reflection and current scholarly practice together in six papers. The subjects ranged from the historiography of the environment and the implicit values pertaining to various environmental history practices, to the issue of interdisciplinarity and the practice of research by young academics in the field. The participants included Peter Burke, Gerry Kearns and Chris Smout. This was the second in a series of meetings organised by the project on 'Uses of environmental history', which aims to examine the development and potential of the discipline. A web site for the Uses of Environmental History project is available.
Paul Warde and Sverker Sörlin organised a roundtable meeting on the Uses of Environmental History. The meeting took place in the Wine Room, King's College on Friday 4 February, and the aim was to present ideas and promote discussion, especially of the cross-disciplinary 'uses' to which environmental history has been put, its current strengths and weaknesses. A short background paper by Sverker and Paul was presented at the meeting, followed by an open discussion. A series of small meetings are envisaged over 2005, culminating in a larger conference in 2006.
A three-day conference was held in King's College, Cambridge 24-26 October 2003, on Energy, Environment and Health. The meeting, organised by Paul Warde, generated a comparative study of energy uses in all sectors of the economy from the period of the 'first industrial revolution' (from ca. the late 18th century onwards) to the present day, with an accompanying analysis of the development of GDP and pollution in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Italy and Spain. Papers were presented by Tony Wrigley, Lennart Schön and Magnus Lindmark.
A two-day colloquium was held in Pembroke College on 20-21 September 2003, on Commonland in Western Europe. The meeting, organised by Paul Warde and Leigh Shaw-Taylor, involved papers and comparative discussions among scholars from England, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and France. It focussed on the relationships between common land, poor relief and social exclusion; the history of the commons in the very long term (from late medieval times until the 19th century); and the systematic analysis of data pertaining to commons management. Papers were presented by Mark Bailey, Stefan Brakensiek, Heather Falvey, David Hall, Martina De Moor, Leigh Shaw-Taylor, Nadine Vivier and Paul Warde.
A two-day colloquium was held in King’s College, Cambridge 31 March - 1 April 2001, on Commonland in Western Europe, organised by Paul Warde and Leigh Shaw-Taylor (Jesus College, Cambridge). This meeting involved comparative discussions and the presentation of papers by scholars from England, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and France. Papers were presented by Peter Hoppenbrouwers (University of Amsterdam) on The Netherlands, Stefan Brakensiek (University of Bielefeld) on Germany, Kerstin Sundberg (University of Lund) on Sweden, Martina de Moor (University of Gent) on Flanders and Angus Winchester (University of Lancaster) on Northern England. Other participants included Jacques Beauroy (Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure / CNRS Paris), Heather Falvey (University of Warwick), Erik Thoen (University of Gent), and Nadine Vivier (University of Maine-Le Mans).
The work developing from this meeting was presented in Paris in October 2001. The original meeting also formed the basis of a book, The Management of Commonland in North-west Europe c.1500-1850 which was edited by Martina de Moor, Leigh Shaw-Taylor, and Paul Warde and published in August 2002 by Brepols. Another meeting will take place in Cambridge on September 19th-21st 2003, focusing on the relationships between common land, poor relief and social exclusion; micro-level studies of common property; and common property in the very long-term, from the Middle Ages to the 19th century. The network of scholars arising from these meetings will be hosting further conference sessions involving scholars from all over Europe in Prague in September 2003, and with experts from Latin America and South Asia in Berlin in March 2004.
A round-table meeting on Environmental Security took place at Trinity College, Cambridge on 7 February 2000. Participants included Ike Achebe (Trinity College, Cambridge), Harriet Bulkeley (St Catharine’s College, Cambridge), Susan Owens (Newnham College, Cambridge), Emma Rothschild, Susan Sechler (Rockefeller Foundation), and Paul Warde.
A colloquium on Documenting Environmental Change organised by Meena Singh and Paul Warde (Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge) was held on 15 September 1999 at Clare Hall, Cambridge. The colloquium brought together scholars from diverse fields in the humanities, social sciences and physical sciences working on environmental change and reconstruction. Participants included Gillian Beer (Clare Hall, Cambridge), Taylor Brown (Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Cambridge), Yusuke Dan (Tokai University, Japan), Rosemary Luff (Clare Hall, Cambridge) Sverker Sörlin (University of Umea, Sweden) and Charles Turner (Open University).
Following this colloquium, a project on Documenting Environmental Change was established. The project, based at the Centre, encourages continued work and dialogue between social and natural scientists engaged in environmental history or forms of historical ecology. An extensive and growing database of work in these fields has been set up, along with a website to disseminate news and information and encourage cooperation and new research projects (see www.envdoc.org). There are now details of around several hundred researchers and projects on the site from the following countries: Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Moldova, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, UK, USA, Vietnam, Yugoslavia, and Zambia.
The level of users currently stands at around 200 ‘hits’ from unique locations per month, with larger numbers coming from the USA, UK, Australia, Sweden and Germany, but also from places such as Taiwan, South Africa, Mexico and Brazil. This now provides a unique international resource for scholars. The work is coordinated by Paul Warde. A seminar series on issues relating to this project was organised by Dr Warde and Dr Singh for the academic year 2002-2003. The seminar meets on alternate Wednesdays at 5pm in Clare Hall, Cambridge.
In December 1997, Meena Singh travelled to South Africa to carry out research in Natal where pollution from sugar and paper mills has displaced people living in the adjacent riverbanks, and to meet researchers and project workers at South Africa’s office of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and the Institute for Democracy in South Africa. She also went to South Africa in late March 1998 to carry out further research and participate in a conference organised by Lawyers for Human Rights on ‘Refugees in the new South Africa’.
In 1997, Stephan Klasen also participated in research projects in Southern Africa. These include the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, where he collaborated with the World Bank on the economic assessment of the project. He prepared a draft paper on Valuing Environmental and Socio-Economic Losses of a Large Infrastructure Project: A Case Study from a Water Transfer Project in Lesotho.
In the course of 1996-1997, the Centre gave support to Julia Hoggett, a graduate student at the Centre, and at Newnham College, Cambridge, in carrying out research on energy issues in Sub-Saharan Africa. She wrote a detailed paper on Fuelling African Underdevelopment? A Two-Speed Model of Adaptation in the 1970s Oil Crisis.
In December 1993, a project on Environment and Democracy was initiated. The project was supported by the Centre for History and Economics and based at Cambridge and at the Land and Agriculture Policy Centre in Johannesburg, with the participation of the University of Lesotho. It is concerned with the environmental consequences of apartheid, and the integration of environmental considerations into policies for the transition to democracy and economic redistribution, including land policies. Meena Singh joined the Centre as a Research Associate in connection with this project. Her research examined the impact of environmentally displaced people in Southern Africa. The research was funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and was conducted over a period of two years in the Eastern Transvaal, the Western Cape and the border area of Lesotho.
In 1996, Meena Singh was made a Research Fellow of the Centre. Her work on environmental refugees continued parallel to studies on environmental resource degradation and depletion, changing access to resources and changing resource needs. Additional support was provided by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency. After a period of maternity leave, Dr Singh returned to work on a part-time basis in November 1997. A collection of essays on Environmental Security and Conflict in Southern Africa, edited by Dr Singh, has been prepared for publication by Sunil Amrith (Christ’s College, Cambridge) and Rosie Vaughan (Centre for History and Economics).
In March-April 1995, Dr Singh organised a conference in Johannesburg on Redefining Security in South Africa. Sixty-five participants, including military specialists, academics, MPs and representatives of NGOs met to re-examine the scope of security, and to extend it beyond the military and intelligence functions with which it had come to be associated during the Cold War years. Participants were asked to identify key issues, networks, and research possibilities along the following themes: Regional and Military Security; Environmental Security - Sharing Access to Scarce Natural Resources in South Africa and Within the Region; and Poverty, Refugees, Human Rights and Security. There were comments by Kader Asmal (Ministry of Water and Forestry), Cheryl Carolus (African National Congress), James Cornford (Common Security Forum), Aziz Pahad (Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs), Emma Rothschild and Meena Singh. Other participants included N. Bwakira (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, South Africa), David Cooper (Land and Agriculture Policy Centre), Saliem Ebrahim (Lawyers for Human Rights), and Tony Yengeni MP. A discussion document edited by Meena Singh, including all the papers presented at the conference, together with a summary of group and plenary discussions, was published by the Centre in August 1995.