This month marked the 51st observation of Earth Day, which, in the past decade, has become one of the largest secular observances in the world. This year, more than 1 billion individuals in over 190 countries are engaged in action to promote conservation and environmental protectionism. In this current moment, the discourse surrounding environmentalism seems to exist primarily in the realms of science and politics, but we wanted to take this opportunity to talk to a couple of researchers who study humankind’s relation with the earth in a broader perspective.
The academic fields of both environmental history and future studies originated in the late 1960s and early 1970s during the rise of the mainstream environmental movement. On today’s episode of The Oxford Comment, we are joined by environmental historian Erin Stewart Mauldin, author Unredeemed Land: An Environmental History of Civil War and Emancipation in the Cotton South, and Jennifer Gidley, the past president of the World Futures Studies Federation and author of The Future: A Very Short Introduction, to learn more about how these two areas of study look at our relationship with the environment and how these valuable perspectives can engage, and inform, our environmental understanding.
Check out Episode 60 of The Oxford Comment and subscribe to The Oxford Comment podcast through your favourite podcast app to listen to the latest insights from our expert authors.
To learn more about environmental history, you can browse our reading list of seven new books on environmental history ranging from a study of the Tigris and the Euphrates to the role of the environment in shaping the experiences of Japanese American’s incarcerated during the World War II. You can also read a chapter from Erin Stewart Mauldin’s book, Unredeemed Land, exploring the ecological regime of slavery and land-use practices across the antebellum South.
For further reading on future studies, you can read a chapter from Jennifer Gidley’s VSI: Technotopian or human-centred futures?. Dr. Gidley also wrote a piece for the OUPblog exploring the challenges, and surprises, of global futures, and she was a guest on The Very Short Introductions Podcast last fall. Finally, you can learn more about the course she’s developed on environmental futures at Ubiquity University.
Featured image by @aleskrivec (CC0 via Unsplash).