Nature’s Past Episode 43: Environmental Scholarship and Environmental Advocacy

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Episode 43: Environmental Scholarship and Environmental Advocacy

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Environmental history has been both friend and foe to environmentalism. Historians can provide important context for understanding contemporary environmental issues, but they can also offer a critique of environmentalism that could undermine the political and social goals of activists.

This is the subject of a recent review essay I wrote for Acadiensis. In that essay I ask, are all environmental historians environmentalists? How should environmental scholarship relate to environmental activism? Should advocacy for environmental issues shape historical scholarship on the environment? Can history always inform contemporary environmental issues?

On this episode of the podcast, we explore these questions with a group of scholars from the Toronto Environmental History Network.

acadiensis spring 2014

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Jessica van Horssen
Alex Hall
David Zybelberg
Andrew Watson
Jonathan McQuarrie

Works Cited:

Sean Kheraj, Canadian History & Environment

Kheraj, Sean. “Scholarship and Environmentalism: The Influence of Environmental Advocacy on Canadian Environmental History” Acadiensis 43, no. 1 (Winter/Spring 2014): 195-206.

Donahue, Brian. Reclaiming the Commons: Community Farms and Forests in a New England Town. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999.

Fiege, Mark. Irrigated Eden: The Making of an Agricultural Landscape in the American West. Seattle: Unviersity of Washington Press, 1999.

McNeill, J.R. “Drunks, Lampposts, and Environmental History” Environmental History 10.1 (January 2005): 64-66.

Parr, Joy. Sensing Changes: Technologies, Environments, and the Everyday, 1953-2003. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2010.

Ritvo, Harriet. The Dawn of Green: Manchester, Thirlmere, and Modern Environmentalism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009.

Wrigley, E. A. Energy and the English Industrial Revolution. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Music Credits:

“The Rain” by Aitua Igeleke

“Dancing upside down” by Aitua Igeleke

“C#m120-GTR-arpeggios” by Martijn de Boer

Photo Credit:

“Saltspring Island, BC, Canada” by


Kheraj, Sean. “Episode 43: Environmental Scholarship and Environmental Advocacy” Nature’s Past: Canadian Environmental History Podcast. 2 July 2014.

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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

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