The Program Committee is pleased to present the program for the 2009 meeting of the American Society for Environmental History – “Paradise Lost, Found, and Constructed: Conceptualizing and Transforming Landscapes through History.” Florida is the obvious inspiration for our program theme; few regions in the United States are as apt locations for the study of the interplay between nature and cultural fantasies about paradise. (If, while attending the conference, you are so fortunate as to enjoy a Friday field trip with blue skies and temperatures in the low 70s, you might be tempted to succumb to a bit of paradise fantasy yourself.) Although Florida was our inspiration, we suggested that proposals take this theme and region as a starting point, and encouraged wider studies as well. As you will see in the following pages, the proposals certainly succeeded. We suspect that you will find your decisions on which panels to attend as difficult as ours were in creating the program.
This year’s conference includes eighty-two sessions and twenty-five posters, for a total of three hundred and twenty eight participating scholars. The diversity of approaches, topics, and disciplines is impressive. We were particularly pleased to see a number of comparative panels, as well as panels dealing with regions of the world that are new to ASEH conferences. The representation of panels dealing with local environmental history is quite strong, and there are also several hands-on workshops, from grant-writing to GIS, from publishing to sustainability. One of the strengths of the ASEH is its generational mixture, and this year is no exception with participants ranging from seasoned veterans active in the formation of our society to first time presenters who at that time were not yet born.
In addition to our regular conference activities, this year’s conference has a special workshop on environmental justice. The workshop will last all day on Friday, and Saturday until after lunch. Thanks to an anonymous donation to the ASEH, and with the support of the journal Environmental Justice, Kristin Shrader-Frechette, Peggy Shepard, and Sacoby Wilson will be joining us and participating in the workshop. This workshop represents a signifi cant addition to the ASEH conference this year – and we hope that the momentum continues in Portland in 2010. By such measures we hope that our society may be strengthened and transformed. This workshop was made possible by the tireless work of program committee member Sylvia Hood Washington, local arrangements chair Fritz Davis, and Richard Gragg from Florida A&M University’s Center for Environmental Equity and Justice. The program committee would like to extend a special thanks to Lisa Mighetto, without whom this conference would not be possible. We would also like to recognize the immense amount of work put in by Fritz Davis as the local arrangements chair, as well as his work in arranging the participation of Dan Simberloff and David Quammen as our Plenary and Keynote speakers, respectively. Finally, we thank all of you for your proposals and creativity. If every annual meeting is a referendum on the intellectual state of our scholarly society, the work that we have reviewed in the last few months makes us confident in proclaiming the ASEH’s health to be good. And if paradise is not just a place, but also the company that you keep, we are confident that the Doubletree Hotel and Mary Brogan Museum of Art and Science will be heaven on earth in late February, 2009. We wish you an enjoyable and invigorating four days.
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