OCGH hosts Astor Visiting Fellow Professor John L. Brooke

The OCGH was pleased to host Professor John L. Brooke, a distinguished professor in environmental history at Ohio State University, for the week of 21-25 May 2018. Professor Brooke presented and participated in several events with Oxford students and researchers from a variety of disciplines, including History, Environmental Science, Archaeology, Geography and the Medical Sciences, as well as members of the general public.

On Monday 21 May, Professor Brooke led a half-day graduate student workshop, organised by the Oxford Environmental History Network. Workshop attendees, including students from History, Archaeology and Anthropology, discussed important questions relating to the intersection of the study of history and environment and climate sciences. Students explored how these questions should inform current graduate research, with a particular focus on scale and agency.

 An interdisciplinary roundtable was held on Thursday 24 May at Oxford’s Museum of Natural History, to discuss Professor Brooke’s book Climate Change and the Course of Global History (CUP 2014). Participants included James Belich (History), Amy Bogaard (Archaeology), Amanda Power (Medieval History), Rob Iliffe (History of Science), and Friederike Otto (Environmental Change Institute). Professor Brooke talked about his recent publication and this was followed by commentaries from a number of Oxford based academics.

On Friday 25 May, Professor Brooke presented the Astor Lecture in Global Environmental History in the Nissan Lecture Theatre, St Antony’s College on ‘Climate and the Plague: Toward a Late Holocene Eurasian Synthesis’. He discussed his research into climate change and the origins of the Bubonic Plague, and invited thoughts from audience members. The lecture was followed by a drinks reception for all attendees.

Other events included a seminar at the School of Archaeology on 22 May, and meetings with several post-holders at the History Faculty.

John L. Brooke is an Arts & Sciences Distinguished Professor of History and Director of the Center for Historical Research at the Ohio State University, where he also holds a courtesy appointment in the Department of Anthropology. He has held fellowships awarded by the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Charles Warren Center, and Harvard University. Building on work with the Tufts University Environmental Studies Program, the OSU History Constellation in Environment, Health, Technology, and Science, and the National Science Foundation-funded ‘Project on European Health since the Paleolithic’, his most recent book is Climate Change and the Course of Global History: A Rough Journey (CUP 2014). Examining the long material and natural history of the human condition, his research has pioneered the integration of the earth-system approach of the new climate science with human history.


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