Various Public Lectures

NiCHE has recorded a number of presentations from public lectures since 2006. Some of those presentations can be found here.


Citation: Fagan, Brian. “And on that day the earth will be turned to ashes.” University of Western Ontario. 23 October, 2008.
Bio: Brian Fagan is emeritus professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has been a leading writer on archaeology for more than three decades, and in recent years has written five best-selling books on historical climate change, including The Little Ice Age, The Long Summer, and his latest, The Great Warming: Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations.


Citation: Heasley, Lynne. “A Paradox of Abundance: The Great Lakes in North American Environmental History.” Nature / History Society Public Lecture. 22 January 2009.
Bio: Lynne Heasley, Department of History, Western Michigan University.
Abstract: With 20% of the world’s freshwater, and ecosystems under severe stress from toxic pollution, invasive species, land use pressure, and global climate change, the Great Lakes basin has received intense public attention in Canada and the United States. The region is also in a fragile economic condition, a virtual Rust Belt of dislocation as manufacturing has moved to other parts of the world. The region’s current ecological and economic vulnerability is, paradoxically, a consequence of its tremendous abundance. Professor Heasley will discuss the opportunities, costs, and problematic outcomes for a border region and vast inland maritime system seemingly blessed by infinite resources. She will focus on the development of joint U.S.-Canadian management of the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes, and its significance in North American environmental history.


Citation: Lucier, Alvin. “Experiments in Sound.” Geography 368 Lecture, Queen’s University. October 2009.
Bio: Alvin Lucier was born in 1931 in Nashua, New Hampshire. Since 1970 he has taught at Wesleyan University where he is the John Spencer Camp Professor of Music. Lucier’s thoughtful and poetic work often engages with the ‘natural’ world and cuts across many disciplinary boundaries. In October 2010 he spoke to a class of geographers studying concepts of ‘nature’.
Abstract: Alvin Lucier is an American composer of experimental music and sound installations. Since the mid-1960s, Lucier has been a pioneering force in music and sound art, whether working with a brainwave-activated percussion orchestra, traditional chamber ensembles or the migratory potential of recorded environments. His recent works include a series of sound installations and works for solo instruments, ensembles, and orchestra in which, by means of close tunings with pure tones, sound waves are caused to spin through space.
Alvin Lucifer transcript


Citation: Barndt, Deborah. “Art, Activism and Academia: Blurring the Boundaries.” Queen’s University, Public Lectures. 12 November 2009.
Bio: Deborah Barndt is a popular educator, photographer, and professor in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University in Toronto. For over 35 years, she has been involved in social movements in Latin America, the U.S., and Canada and has published and exhibited widely. For the past decade she has coordinated collaborative transnational research on the food system (Tangled Routes: Women, Work and Globalization on the Tomato Trail) and on popular education and community arts (Wild Fire: Art as Activism). Most recently, The VIVA Project has involved participatory action research with popular educators on eight community arts projects in Panama, Nicaragua, Mexico, the U.S. And Canada. At York, she teaches a graduate course in Popular Education for Social Change and coordinates the Community Arts Practice Program.
Abstract: On 12th November 2009, Deborah Barndt spoke at Queen’s University on the topic of Art, Activism, and Academia: Blurring the Boundaries and is happy for Transnational Ecologies to share this recording.


Citation: Pratt, Mary Louise. “Globalization and the Ecology of Language.” Dunning Trust Lecture. 3 March 2010.
Bio: Mary Louise Pratt is the Silver Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Literatures and the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University.
Abstract: Language has not been a category of analysis in the study of globalization — an extraordinary fact, considering the power language exercises in shaping global processes and possibilities, in both war and peace. This lecture asks how one might begin to construct an account of globalization that recognizes human linguistic agency, the force of language, the particularities of human language competencies, and the weaponization of language in contemporary warfare.


Citation: Hoffmann, Richard C. “Summarizing Remarks.” Landscapes and Societies in Ancient and Medieval Europe East of the Elbe.” York University. 27 March 2010.
Bio: Professor Hoffmann is a scholar of the environmental, economic and social history of medieval and early modern Europe.
Abstract: Richard Hoffmann summarizes, synthesizes, and comments on the diverse papers presented at “Landscapes and Societies in Ancient and Medieval Europe East of the Elbe: Interactions between Environmental Settings and Cultural Transformations”. This conference, held at York University on March 26-27 2010, brought together a number of scholars from Europe and North America to discuss the relationships between nature and society in eastern medieval Europe.


Citation: Young, Jason. “A Public Technology: Building Toronto’s Yonge Street Subway.” History Matters. 14 Oct. 2010.
Bio: Jason is a PhD History candidate at York University.
Abstract: The lecture discussed various episodes surrounding the building of Toronto’s original Yonge Street subway line during the late 1940s and early 1950s, with particular attention paid to the impacts of construction on local merchants and residents, and the immediate reactions of Torontonians towards the subway after it opened in 1954.


Citation: Bonnell, Jennifer. “Isolating Undesirables: Prisons, Pollution, and Homelessness in the Don River Valley, 1860-1932”. History Matters. 14 Oct. 2010.
Abstract: This presentation explores the history of waste disposal in the Don valley from the late eighteenth century, when the first mills on the river used its flowing water as a convenient means of disposing wastes, through to the present, when salt waste from winter roads and sewage effluents from combined sewer overflows regularly enter the waterway. It also documents the experiences of “human undesirables” in the valley, from the “Brooks Bush Gang” who used the valley as a hide-out in the 1860s, to the Depression-era hoboes who constructed make-shift shelters on the river flats, and the long line of homeless people who have sought refuge in the valley over the last two-hundred years.


Citation: Murphy, Michelle. “Time in the Data of Cholera”, Concordia University Public Lecture. 11 March 2011.
Bio: Dr. Murphy is an Associate Professor in the History Department and Women and Gender Studies Institute at the University of Toronto.
Abstract: Her new research examines the ways in which researchers have studied and relayed the presence of cholera in Bangladesh from the late 19th century to the present, showing how disease changes with time and terminology.


Citation: Davis, Emily Jane. “Preserving History in a Digital Age.” Forest History Association of British Columbia Conference. 19 September 2009.
Bio: Emily Jane Davis is a PhD candidate in UBC’s Geography department. Her research is a comparative project about the multiple changes and challenges that forested landscapes and communities in interior BC and eastern Oregon are experiencing. She has also served as the inaugural coordinator for NiCHE’s Forest History group, and thereby met and learnt from forest history enthusiasts across BC.
Abstract: Ms. Davis discussed the role of remembering and preserving historical records in today’s data-rich age. Though we are inundated daily with information through the internet and digital networks like the Network in Canadian History and Environment (NiCHE), the very abundance challenges the historical practice of close readings, offering instead a constant stream of new sources and new ways of conducting research. Comprehensiveness, then, threatens to replace expertise in the face of an essentially unknown audience. Despite these challenges and ever shifting measures, however, Ms. Davis argues that we should continue to save and collect, ultimately using the digital world as but one of many tools for communication. People and the relationships between them thus become the most important resources in the preservation and maintenance of vitality in forest history.


Citation: Ben Maddison ‘The Commons in Nineteenth-Century Australia: A Provisional History’. 10 May 2007. Glendon College, York University.
Bio: Dr Ben Maddison of the University of Wollongong, Australia, delivered the following talk at Glendon College, York University, on 10 May 2007.
Abstract: In this talk, he discussed the creation and debates over common lands in Australia, primarily in the nineteenth century. This is the first activity of the Commons Research Group, and we would welcome your comments on this talk. Please send feedback to Colin Coates, ccoates@gl.yorku.ca.


Citation: Chacon, Carlos. “Wherever they are, they are local birds” a Podcast with Carlos Chacon on migratory birds of North & Central America, place & knowledge. 1 January 2009.


Citation: McCann, James, “Africa’s Malarial Landscapes: History, Complexity and Silver Bullets” Melville-Nelles-Hoffmann Environmental History Lecture, 7 March 2012
Bio: Professor James McCann is a leading scholar in the fields of African and environmental history whose research interests include agricultural and ecological histories of Africa, Ethiopia, and the Horn of Africa, field research methods in African Studies, the agro-ecology of tropical disease, and the history of food and cuisine in Africa and the Atlantic world.
Abstract: This paper explores the challenges of combating malaria in Ethiopia. James McCann describes a multidisciplinary research project on the ecological relationship between malaria and maize.


Citation: Daniel MacFarlane, “Rapid Change: Creating the St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project,” Ottawa Environmental History Lecture Series.
Bio: Daniel MacFarlane is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the History Department at Carleton University.
Abstract: Daniel presented this talk to a public audience in the Ottawa Public Library as a part of a four part series in the winter and spring of 2011.


Citation: William Knight, “The Dominion Fisheries Museum in Ottawa: Lost and Found,” Ottawa Environmental History Lecture Series.
Bio: William Knight is a PhD Candidate in the History Department at Carleton University.
Abstract: Will presented this talk to a public audience in the Ottawa Public Library as a part of a four part series in the winter and spring of 2011.


Citation: Phil Van Huizen, “The Road to Earth Day: The History of the Environmental Movement in British Columbia” Vancouver Public Library Earth Week Lecture, (April 2011).
Bio: UBC PhD candidate and environmental historian, Philip Van Huizen, and historical geographer and B.C. Sierra Club and Greenpeace founder, Dr. Terry Simmons, discuss what we can learn from scholarly and personal stories of the environmental movement in the rain forest and beyond.
Abstract: On Monday April 18th, 2011, NiCHE co-sponsored an event hosted at the Vancouver Public Library. Entitled “The Road to Earth Day: The History of the Environmental Movement in British Columbia”, the session featured two speakers, and a question and answer session. Approximately 60 people were in attendance. Part of Super Natural British Columbia, Vancouverites inhabit a dense temperate rain forest, transformed into a modern cosmopolitan city. Earth Day celebrates annually the challenges of environmental issues in places like ours, where microchips and wood chips co-exist.


Citation: Terry Simmons, “The Road to Earth Day: The History of the Environmental Movement in British Columbia” Vancouver Public Library Earth Week Lecture, (April 2011).
Bio: UBC PhD candidate and environmental historian, Philip Van Huizen, and historical geographer and B.C. Sierra Club and Greenpeace founder, Dr. Terry Simmons, discuss what we can learn from scholarly and personal stories of the environmental movement in the rain forest and beyond.
Abstract: On Monday April 18th, 2011, NiCHE co-sponsored an event hosted at the Vancouver Public Library. Entitled “The Road to Earth Day: The History of the Environmental Movement in British Columbia”, the session featured two speakers, and a question and answer session. Approximately 60 people were in attendance. Part of Super Natural British Columbia, Vancouverites inhabit a dense temperate rain forest, transformed into a modern cosmopolitan city. Earth Day celebrates annually the challenges of environmental issues in places like ours, where microchips and wood chips co-exist.


Citation: Andrew Watson, “Poor Soils and Rich Folks: Household Metabolisms and Sustainability in Muskoka, 1860-1920,” ESAC 2011 Annual Conference.
Bio: Andrew Watson is a PhD Candidate in the History Department at York University in Toronto.
Abstract: In the second half of the nineteenth century, Eurocanadians resettled the region of the Muskoka Lakes as part of a larger liberal project to further colonize North America. Resettlers who took up free land grants in the 1860s and 1870s discovered thin, acidic soils beneath old growth forests that proved incapable of providing for all of their material needs, and which resulted in a reliance on exogenous inputs from places to the south that continues to this day. By the 1880s, however, tourism had emerged as a vital market for people in Muskoka. Over the course of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, permanent residents and tourists established interdependent relationships, which formed the foundations for more sustainable social, economic, and ecological arrangements. New social and technological forces, such as consumerism and the internal combustion engine, however, emerged after the turn of the century to reorient household consumption patterns towards a greater proportion of less sustainable exogenously-based inputs. This project applies a societal metabolisms methodology1 to mainly written primary sources in order to study the flows of energy and material in Muskoka households between 1860 and 1920, and premises that nothing was (or is) completely sustainable, only more or less sustainable in relation to time (comparisons between periods) and space (comparisons within periods). Sustainability actually implies instability and change, rather than stasis and continuity, and therefore, demands consideration of both the cultural and environmental forces shaping society. Thus, this study argues that the degree to which life on the Shield can be considered sustainable has changed according to the economic constraints, environmental limitations, and socio-cultural norms and attitudes regarding consumption. Moreover, this study is intended to demonstrate the history is essential to the understanding of sustainability, and that sustainability is a useful analytical category for the study of history.


Citation: “The Value of Looking Back: Using History in Environmental Studies,” ESAC 2011 Annual Conference.
Bio: Bill Parenteau (Chair) (History, University of New Brunswick), Claire Campbell (History and College of Sustainability, Dalhousie University), Joshua MacFadyen (History, University of Western Ontario), Mark McLaughlin (History, University of New Brunswick)
Abstract: The Brundtland Commission may have given us a working definition of sustainability, but as Wynn wryly suggested, the issues embedded in sustainability have much deeper roots. Yet in public discussion the “environment” is usually headlined only in the present or future tenses: in a language of crisis and immediacy, or a speculation about proposed alternatives. Historians and historical geographers, however, believe it essential to consider the “thousand previous investments and accidents of history” that have shaped the places and practices that we have inherited, in order to craft thoughtful and effective responses. Environmental history helps us understand the depth and complexity of human impact on the natural world, by placing specific sites and issues in a longer tradition of appropriation and use. It also sheds light on human motivation and action by situating older practices in their ideological, political, and cultural contexts. But at the same time, we can find earlier examples of resilience, adaptation, and engagement with the natural world that might serve as inspiration for new kinds of sustainable practice. Equally important, an historical study encourages – indeed requires – drawing upon evidence from across the humanities and sciences. Our roundtable, all members of NiCHE [Network of Canadian History and Environment], will discuss our experiences in connecting the environmental history of Atlantic Canada to teaching, research, and policy. Josh will discuss the application of GIS in assessing Prince Edward Island’s rural landscapes; Mark and Bill, the implications of New Brunswick’s history of industrial forestry for sustainable public forest management; and Claire, the challenges of teaching Atlantic history in an interdisciplinary program of environment and sustainability.


Citation: David Zylberberg, “Faggots or Pit-Props: A Comparison of Woodland Management in 18th Century Hampshire and the West Riding of Yorkshire,” ESAC 2011 Annual Conference.
Bio: David Zylberberg is a PhD Candidate in the History Department at York University in Toronto.
Abstract: Eighteenth-Century England was a country of great regional diversity in energy regimes, with a large coalfield in the industrializing regions of the north and west that contrasted with a dependence on plant fuels in a more agrarian south and east. This paper compares woodland management between two counties that embody the characteristics of these two regions. Hampshire is along the south coast and lacked local supplies of coal with wood and peat being the primary energy sources. As a result, its woodlands continued to exhibit traditional management practices, with 12 to 14 year coppice cycles used to maximize the growth of wood suitable for making charcoal or burning as faggots. Meanwhile, in the West Riding a large local coalfield meant that wood was not burned domestically in the 18th century and only used for a few specialized industrial uses after 1740, when technological advancements allowed iron to be smelted by coked coal. However, coal mines required large numbers of wooden pit-props to prevent collapses and local woods were generally managed on 21 year coppice cycles to maximize the growth of these larger shoots. Based upon reading the local accounts and sale records of woodlands, this paper will argue that while the two woodland ecosystems differed, both should be understood as being managed to efficiently produce fuel for the domestic and industrial uses of their regions. The sustainability of these two systems is more complex since both maximized production of the desired wood in a reliable manner that could be continued indefinitely but could not increase to the same extent as population was expanding. This paper fits with the conference theme by offering a historical perspective on the local management of environmental resources in a generally sustainable manner.


Citation: Interview of George Dashwood by David Brownstein.
Bio: George Dashwood attended the annual meeting of the Forest History Association of British Columbia in Prince George, Sept 2009. While on the fieldtrip, the 97-year-old Dashwood was able to share his memories with those on the bus. The next day, David Brownstein sat down with George for a more extended conversation centred on George’s experiences growing up in B.C. during the 1920s, and looking for work as a woodsman in the 1930s. Before the interview, George had recently suffered a stroke that impared his ability to communicate numbers, but his memory of events remained unaffected.
Abstract:
Index of the full version
0-5:24 Early life, time as a Boy Scout in Mission.
5:24-6:00 Description of Mission, B.C.
6:00-7:25 Description of looking for work during the Depression.
7:25-8:30 Relief Camps and the violent march to Vancouver.
8:30-14:53 The Journey to Aleza Lake.
14:35-21:20 Aleza Lake classes and instruction.
21:20-25:00 Travels from Aleza Lake to Sinclair Mills and Hansard.
25:00-26:50 Dances and Social Life at Hansard.
26:50-30:50 Attempting to join the Rocky Mountain Rangers at the beginning of the Second World War.
30:50-34:59 Working in logging camps and Scaling around the province.
34:59-36:19 Interest in tree planting in the late 1930s.
39:10-40:45 Working with convicts in the Queen Charlottes.
40:45-end. Encounters with bears, including a face to face meeting. “You wouldn’t been any closer if you were gonna kiss a girl!”


Citation: Interview of Gerry Burch, by David Brownstein.
Bio: Gerry retired as the vice president of forestry for B.C. Forest Products Ltd. In his career he was the president of the national Canadian Institute of Forestry, president of the Association of B.C. Professional Foresters, and director of the Western Forestry and Conservation Association. Gerry received the Canadian Forestry Achievement Award (CIF), the Distinguished Forester Award (ABCPF), and the Lifetime Western Forestry Award (WFCA). He was the first Chairman of the Reforestation Board and the Plus Tree Board, and was responsible for the publication of four books: The Working Forest of B.C., The Father of Silviculture in B.C: F.D. Mulholland, The Father of Tree Improvement in B.C: Dr A Orr Ewing, and an autobiography entitled Still Counting the Rings.
Abstract: Gerry gives an account of his early biography. He provides the highlights of his time at BC Forest Products. Describes some personal successes. Talks about inter-generational learning. Gives an account of some disappointments in policy. Speaks to the role of forest history.


Citation: Turkel, William J. “Handheld Computing for Place-Based Learning.” May 2006.
Bio: William Turkel is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Western Ontario as well as the leader of the NiCHE Digital Infrastructure project.
Abstract: The combination of handheld computers with global positioning system (GPS) receivers makes it possible to present content that is targeted to specific places. In 2006, Western Public History MA students used the technology to create a walking tour of the Old East part of London to accompany a Museum London exhibit and website that they also worked on. I discuss the process of introducing the technology for coursework, our particular application of it, and some ways that it can be incorporated into teaching across the curriculum.”


Citation: Michèle Dagenais, “L’eau est une poubelle : Une revue de la causerie de Montréal et l’eau”
Bio: Michèle Dagenais est un professeur a l’Universite de Montréal
Abstract: Est le fleuve Saint-Laurent une poubelle géante pour la ville de Montréal? Après la causerie sur la publication Montréal et l’eau : Une histoire environnementale, je pense que oui! Mais l’eau est aussi l’âme de la ville, et Michèle Dagenais nous informe dans sa publication que le fleuve est la raison principale de la gloire d’antan de Montréal. La causerie à l’Olivieri librairie et bistro sur le 16 mars donnée Dagenais l’occasion de parler sur l’histoire de l’eau et la ville dans une façon informelle, avec beaucoup des questions de l’animatrice Carole Vallières est du public. Il est certain que la causerie vous donnera un point de vue renouvelé sur l’eau, la ville est vous.

Print Friendly

Leave a Reply