Colorado mountains

Environmental Histories in the LTER Network

Working Group Reports

Environmental history is emerging as an important field within the LTER network. It offers a way to think about anthropogenic influences on ecological change over time, and a useful methodology for integrating science and society.  A number of LTER sites have established environmental history projects, which are at various stages of development. These projects have emerged within the LTER network in different ways at different sites, which is unsurprising given the diversity and interdisciplinary nature of the field of environmental history as well as the diversity of LTER sites.  Some environmental history projects have developed organically at LTER sites as scientists have recognized that the integration of human dimensions is crucial for understanding ecological change over time.  Other historical projects have been stimulated more directly by the ISSE initiative, which has encouraged an explicit engagement between science and society.  As sociologists, anthropologists, economists, and other social scientists interact with the LTER network there is always a historical component to their work that is implicit in the LTERs’ mission to study long-term data.  A third direction from which environmental history is emerging within the LTER network is from the Arts/Humanities group (out of which this proposal developed).  Although these projects have much in common, a downside of the diversity within LTER environmental history is that there is relatively little dialog among those involved in environmental history work at different sites, and even sometimes little awareness of the work that is taking place.  This proposed working group seeks to create a dialog among those involved in environmental history projects within the LTER network, and it has three major aims.  Firstly it seeks to stimulate, continue, and broaden a discussion about environmental history within the LTER network, with an aim of exchanging information on methods and resources.  Secondly, it seeks to begin an inventory of projects that could be classified as “environmental history” taking place at different sites.  Thirdly, it seeks to begin a discussion about what can be done to encourage greater collaboration among environmental history projects taking place within the LTER network, and how the study of history might be expanded to other sites.  The proposal seeks to build on a well-attended session that was held at the American Society for Environmental History (ASEH) annual meeting in Madison, Wisconsin in March 2012 titled “Environmental History and the LTER Network,” which presented environmental history work from three different LTER sites, alongside an overview of the history of the LTER network.


Adrian Howkins
Anita Guerrini
Preferred date(s): 
Sept 12
Number of 2 hour sessions requested: 
Equipment requested: 
1 Projector for Power Point Presentations. 1 flip chart with pens for taking notes.
Additional Comments: 
We would request a date/time that does not overlap with the proposed Arts/Humanities workshops. The first half of the 2-hour session will take the form of an information exchange with a variety of presentations of historical work that is taking place within the LTER network. The second half will be a brainstorming session to discuss future directions and collaborations.
Room Assignment: 
Longs Peak - Keyhole (60)

Background Photo by: Nicole Hansen - Jornada (JRN) LTER