Nature’s Past Episode 17: Virtual Field Trips, Automobiles, and Global Commodity Chains

Scroll this
NP Logo 1x1 12 July 2016

Episode 17: Virtual Field Trips, Automobiles, and Global Commodity Chains

Download Audio


if_Google-Play_692176    if_Google-Play_692176    if_itunes_C_104830    if_icon-social-youtube_211929     if_073_RSS_183202   if_twitter_square_black_107068if_46-facebook_104458

Over the summer, the NiCHE New Scholars group organized a virtual environmental history workshop that invited graduate students from around the world to participate in two days of discussion and review of working papers on a variety of topics in environmental history. Students from Canada, the US, Britain, France, Japan, and Australia were connected using Skype, Google Groups, and a WordPress blog to review compelling new graduate research in environmental history.

One of the hallmarks of the workshop was the virtual field trip. Because field trips play such a prominent role in environmental history workshops and conferences, the New Scholars organizing committee wanted to somehow include a field trip component in the virtual workshop. Using a combination of the photo-sharing service, Picassa, Google Maps and Google Earth, the workshop participants created an impressive collaborative geo-tagged photo essay on the topic of the automobile and its impact on landscapes as a global commodity.

Workshop participants were asked to upload and geo-tag photos of the impact of automobiles on their local environments and provide brief annotations and captions for each picture. Those images were then three-dimensionally mapped, using Google Earth, to allow each participant to virtually travel this global commodity chain through images of the impact of automobility in all of the participant countries and regions.

On this episode of the podcast we speak with some of the participants from this virtual environmental history field trip and ask them about their collaborative work on this project.


Rosemary Collard

Will Knight

Jeff Slack

Colin Tyner

Lauren Wheeler

Works Cited:

Sean Kheraj, Canadian History & Environment

Walking the Commodity Chain: A Virtual Field Trip to Explore Automobility

Colin Tyner, The Labour of Nature and Island Life

Lauren Wheeler, Can Enviro Rock?

Jeff Slack, Mountain Nerd

Music Credits:

“That’s For Sure” by Clarence Simpson

“Another Try” by Clarence Simpson

“Just As You Will” by Clarence Simpson

Photo Credit:

2007 at Coal Point in Goleta, California” by Sean Kheraj


Kheraj, Sean. “Episode 17: Virtual Field Trips, Automobiles, and Global Commodity Chains” Nature’s Past: Canadian Environmental History Podcast. 29 October 2010.

The following two tabs change content below.

Sean Kheraj

Associate Professor and Vice-Provost Academic at Toronto Metropolitan University
Sean Kheraj is a member of the executive committee of the Network in Canadian History and Environment. He's an associate professor in the Department of History and Vice-Provost Academic at Toronto Metropolitan University. His research and teaching focuses on environmental and Canadian history. He is also the host and producer of Nature's Past, NiCHE's audio podcast series and he blogs at

NiCHE encourages comments and constructive discussion of our articles. We reserve the right to delete comments that fail to meet our guidelines including comments under aliases, or that contain spam, harassment, or attacks on an individual.