The Canadian History and Environment Book Series

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This month, NiCHE is asking the environmental history and humanities community to help support the organization by donating to raise $8,000 dollars in November. If you haven’t already supported the important work that NiCHE does, perhaps learning a bit more about the Canadian History and Environment book series with the University of Calgary Press will convince you!

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Collaboration is a concept often spoken of in academia, but rarely well practised. Certainly not as well as I see it practised by the members of NiCHE, an organization I look upon as the exemplar for scholarly collaboration in Canada. When the concept for a book series intended as a platform for interactive discussion of Canadian topics in environmental history was first explained to me I was struck by how well that formulation meshed with University of Calgary Press’s goals for all our open access books. Enabled by some seed funding from NiCHE, and guided by the astute judgement of series editor Alan MacEachern, the Canadian History and Environment (CHE) series has grown, in just over a decade, into a cohesive suite of eleven edited collections which shine a light on an array of topics that, collectively, have helped define and advance the field of environmental history in Canada.

The choice to focus the series, at least initially, on edited collections instead of monographs was a conscious one—a range of expert viewpoints that resonate with each other, designed to stimulate discussion. Individual open access chapters or a range of chapters, within one book or across several in the series, can be assigned in a classroom or a less formal grouping of scholars. The quality of this concept was recognized early on, when Mining and Communities in Northern Canada, edited by Arn Keeling and John Sandlos, the third title in the series, was given distinction as the inaugural winner of the Canadian Studies Network-Réseau d’études canadienne Best Collection in Canadian Studies award. This is the standard to which subsequent books in the series have aspired and, in my opinion, consistently met.

Another concept spoken of but seldom defined in academia is impact. Collectively, the titles in the CHE series have been downloaded, free of charge, more than 250,000 times—not just in Canada but in countries around the world. In this way, Canada’s environmental history is shared and blended with global environmental history. Canada has taken an important place in the discussion. Clearly, the books in the CHE series have made a measurable and demonstrable impact. However, publishing open access scholarship costs money, and every future volume in the series will need to have some funding to support publication. It is incumbent on the scholarly community to lobby our institutions and government agencies to recognize this need.

Over the past year, we have posted all of the books in the series on Manifold, a web-based publishing platform. This provides an alternative open access reading experience for the books, one that allows search and annotation. Manifold also gives the option for instructors or researchers to create open or closed reading groups in which to share thoughts and comments on the books’ content, as well as other related textual or audio-visual materials, as seen here for Mining and Communities in Northern Canada.

We at the University of Calgary Press look forward to continuing our collaboration in this series with the scholars of NiCHE, in whatever new directions it may take us; whether a continuation of edited collections, branching out to include monographs, or other creative, innovative ways of mobilizing scholarship in Canadian environmental history.

Read any of the books in the Canadian History and Environment series for free by clicking on the links below.

Traces of the Animal Past
Edited by Jennifer Bonnell and Sean Kheraj

First Century of the International Joint Commission
Edited by Daniel Macfarlane and Murray Clamen

Environmental Activism on the Ground
Edited by Jonathan Clapperton and Liza Piper

Animal Metropolis: Histories of Human-Animal Relations in Urban Canada
Edited by Joanna Dean, Darcy Ingram, and Christabelle Sethna

Ice Blink: Navigating Northern Environmental History
Edited by Stephen Bocking and Brad Martin

Border Flows: A Century of the Canadian-American Water Relationship
Edited by Lynne Heasley and Daniel Macfarlane

Moving Natures: Mobility and the Environment in Canadian History
Edited by Ben Bradley, Jay Young, and Colin M. Coates

Canadian Countercultures and the Environment
Edited by Colin M. Coates

Mining and Communities in Northern Canada: History, Politics, and Memory
Edited by Arn Keeling and John Sandlos

Historical GIS Research in Canada
Edited by Jennifer Bonnell and Marcel Fortin

Century of Parks Canada, 1911-2011
Edited by Claire Campbell

Feature image: All the titles published in the CHE series. Photo by Alan MacEachern.
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Brian Scrivener

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