The NiCHE New Scholars Community

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As a new academic year gets underway I am very pleased to introduce M. Blake Butler as the incoming New Scholars Representative for NiCHE. Blake is a PhD candidate at Western University researching different human relationships with snow in twentieth-century British Columbia. He has been an active participant in the New Scholars community for some time and was the driving force in getting the New Scholars Reading Club, an invaluable initiative that has served as the main focus for community meetings for much of the COVID era, up and running beginning in the summer of 2020. There are exciting plans in the works for the next year, so whether you’re already an active participant in the New Scholars community or are interested in getting involved, I encourage you to stay tuned and join in! The community serves as a network for graduate students, recent PhD graduates, and postdoctoral fellows, and is also open to unaffiliated people with a keen interest in the intersection of history and the environment. It provides a space to connect through digital and, as conditions allow, in-person gatherings, and to share ideas, resources, and opportunities, inside and outside academia. I’m really looking forward to staying involved this year and hope you’ll join us. Watch out for detailed plans from Blake, and feel welcome to reach out to him with any inquiries.

It’s a privilege to get to serve as the New Scholars Representative, and I feel that was especially so over the past year and a half. I am extremely grateful to everyone who was able to stay involved with the community in this time as it has felt more important than usual to have a space to connect with colleagues and other folks with similar interests. This has certainly not been possible for everyone, but know that the community is still here and is looking forward to welcoming you when that is possible. Before completely turning things over to Blake, as is tradition I’d just like to highlight a few of the initiatives of the past year or so to offer a glimpse of what the community has been up to.

I was excited to continue editing Unearthed, the series of New Scholar interviews launched by former New Scholars Rep Heather Green in 2019. The series now boasts 12 profiles, and you can find them here. Digital meetings remained central to the New Scholars community, and dozens of folks gathered to discuss topics ranging from community-engaged environmental history to doing animal history in the context of a zoonotic pandemic. The aforementioned Reading Club was also a big focus of our digital meetings, with the group read texts touching on topics ranging from “Hope” in environmental history to seasonality and the Anthropocene. We got to meet with scholars including Bathsheba Demuth and Daniel Macfarlane. Again, again, a big thank you to Blake for leading this initiative!.

One more brand new initiative was a collaborative effort with Environmental History Now and the ASEH Graduate Student Caucus. Flip The List started as a modest effort to expand and diversify Wikipedia’s ‘List of environmental books‘ to include more work by scholars of colour, from the Global South, and those who identify as women, trans, and non-binary. While continuing this work and adding more articles covering such scholarship to Wikipedia has remained the core focus of Flip the List, the initiative has also broadened into conversations about how to expand these efforts throughout academia and to encouraging instructors to use the aims of the project as teaching tools. It is very much an ongoing project, so stay tuned for future announcements and opportunities.

The NiCHE New Scholars community has always been a vibrant network dedicated to fostering new ideas and connections. If you have ideas for a new initiative or just want to get involved and connect with other folks thinking about similar things, please do not hesitate to join in. Keep an eye out for announcements on this website and join the mailing list by emailing Blake here. Thanks to everyone who has contributed and I look forward to seeing you soon!

Feature Image: Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park. Credit: Justin Fisher.
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Justin Fisher

Justin is a PhD candidate in Environmental History at the University of Saskatchewan. A settler from Treaty 6 territory in Saskatoon, his research is currently focused on energy history. Justin is also an organizer and researcher with Climate Justice Saskatoon and a former NiCHE New Scholars representative. He loves lentils.

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