NiCHE New Scholars 2017/18

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Welcome, everyone, to the start of a fresh NiCHE New Scholars year! I am the incoming New Scholars representative, and I am excited about the possibilities for the year ahead.

If you have not heard of NiCHE New Scholars, it is a group of graduate students, recent graduates, and postdoctoral fellows who have a Canadian connection and a common interest: environmental history. New Scholars seeks to bridge the disciplinary, institutional, and geographical gaps that separate us. I would like to welcome back all our returning members, and also to encourage all historians with an interest in the environment and a link to Canada who are in the foundational stages of their academic career to reach out and join in some of our conversations. I also urge those of you who do not primarily categorize yourselves as environmental historians but have an interest in the topic, who have just started on your graduate careers, or who have not yet been involved in NiCHE before, to contact me, too, at

By way of introduction, I am a seventh year PhD candidate, and I study the comparative environmental history of uranium mining in Canada, the United States, and the Soviet Union through the use of one representative case study from each country. I grew up in Oshawa, Ontario flanked by nuclear power plants and a uranium refinery about which I knew nothing. I received my undergraduate degree from Queen’s University, and then moved to Washington, D.C. six years ago to begin my PhD at Georgetown University. I am currently writing my dissertation and teaching an undergraduate course called “The Global Environmental History of the Cold War.” I look forward to reconnecting with those of you I have met and connecting with those of you I have yet to meet over the course of the year!

In the next few months, we will meet via Google Hangouts and collaborate through Google Docs to discuss, debate, and inform one another about many issues that occur in our field, as well as topics that I return to again and again as I write my dissertation and teach my first environmental history course.  There are many subjects I am excited to discuss this year, and I am open to thoughts and opinions, as well. If you would like to see a particular topic, book or article discussed; receive feedback on something you have written; or lead a discussion yourself, please let me know.

As the first New Scholars representative based at a US institution and as a scholar who is working on comparative history, I am very interested in conversations about the impacts of borders on our field. The first discussion we will have in October will be about integrating and connecting Canadian environmental history with the environmental history of the rest of the world.

Some other matters I would like to discuss this year include how to write environmental history instead of environmentally-minded traditional history and what that means. If I can find enough people who are interested, I also would like to look at the environmental impact of the atomic age on and within Canada. From the establishment of Greenpeace to the Chalk River accidents, Canada was an active participant in the global nuclear era and I hope to address some of the main themes and consequences of this period.

Finally, I would like to create a Google Doc that serves as a running list of Canadian archives or archives useful to environmental historians who study Canada. As we all know, every archive has its quirks, so I would like to compile a list of tips and tricks for using an archive, as well as which collections you—as a New Scholar—have found useful in your research. When the year is done, we can publish the list, and it will hopefully become an important resource for future New Scholars.


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Robynne Mellor

PhD Candidate at Georgetown University
I received my PhD from Georgetown University and am currently working as a historical consultant at Sunmount Consulting in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I study the intersection of environmental history and the Cold War, with a focus on uranium mining in the United States, Canada, and the Soviet Union.

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