Lecturer in Environmental History
Cambridge CB2 1RF
After completing a degree in History and PhD at Cambridge, I was a Junior Research Fellow at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge (1999-2001) before moving on to a lectureship at Pembroke College, Cambridge (2001-2007). Subsequently I worked at the University of East Anglia (2007-2014), first as a Reader in Early Modern History and then as Professor of Environmental History, before returning to Cambridge in January 2015.
I work on the environmental, economic and social history of early modern and modern Europe. My interests lie in particular in the history of energy use and its relationship with social, economic and political development, and environmental change. I have worked extensively on peasant societies in early modern Europe, and their use and exchange of commodities, especially wood, and the effects on management of the land and forests; on the Industrial Revolution and the scale and consequences o shifts from 'traditional' energy carriers to fossil fuels and new renewable forms of energy supply; and on the history of environmental and economic thought, especially key concepts like 'sustainability' and 'environment'.
Current major grant-funded research projects include (1) energy use 'embodied' in trade (accounting for the energy that went into the production of traded goods) between 1700 and 1970, and the relationships of energy, structures of trade, carbon emissions, and economic growth. This is funded by the Swedish Research Council and in collaboration with Astrid Kander (Lund). (2) 'The Power and the water', an AHRC-funded collaborative (with colleagues at Bristol and Nottingham universities) study of attitudes to energy and water infrastructure in Britain , and (3) research in the energy history of the Scandinavian Arctic as part of a wider project on Arctic sustainability with colleagues at the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, and Umea University.
I am also engaged in writing up a British Academy funded research project on the history of the potash trade to Britain c.1550-1750, the key provider of alkalis to British industry and a very major consumer of wood in Eastern Europe.
I am currently supervising two PhD students: one on an intellectual and cultural history of seeds in 16th and 17th century England; and as part of the AHRC-funded 'the Power and the Water' project, one on an Environmental History of the UK National Grid.
I would welcome research students interested in the environment and economic history of early modern Europe, especially Germany, Scandinavia, and Britain; and the energy history of the modern world.
I currently teach on the Part II specified subject 'Population, Development and Environment, 1750-2000', and on the Part I courses 'Themes in World Environmental History' (Themes and Sources); 'Social and economic History of Britain 1450-1750' (paper 9) and 'European history, 1450-1750' (paper 16).
Other Professional Activities
Research Director at the Centre for History and Economics, Magdalene College, Cambridge
Senior Editor at 'History & Policy'
The Invention of Sustainability. Nature, Human Action, and Destiny, 1500-1870 (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming).
Local Places, Global Processes (Oxford: Windgather Press, 2016). Edited with Peter Coates and David Moon.
The Future of Nature. Documents of Global Change (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013). Edited with Libby Robin and Sverker Sörlin.
Power to the people. Energy in Europe in the last five centuries (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2013). With Paolo Malanima and Astrid Kander.
Nature’s End. History and the Environment (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2009). Edited with Sverker Sorlin
Energy Consumption in England & Wales, 1560-2004 (Naples: CNR, 2007)
Ecology, Economy and State Formation in Early Modern Germany (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2006)
The management of common land in north west Europe ca.1500-1850 CORN Publication Series Nr.8 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2002). Edited with de Moor, M. and Shaw-Taylor, L.
‘Sustainability, resources and the destiny of states in German cameralist thought’ in Forrester, K., and Smith, S., eds, TBA (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming).
‘Social and environmental history in the Anthropocene’, in Arnold, J., ed., History Matters. History after Hobsbawm (Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming).
‘Constructing Arctic Energy Resources: the case of the Canadian north, 1921-1980’, in Wormbs, N., ed., Arctic Futures, (Farnham: Ashgate, forthcoming).
‘The Environment’, in Coates, P., Moon, D., & Warde, P., eds, Local Places, Global Processes. (Oxford: Windgather Press, 2016), 32-46.
‘Early modern “resource crisis”: the wood shortage debates in Europe’, in Brown, A.T, Burn, A., and Doherty, R., eds, Crisis in economic and social history (Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2015), 137-160.
‘Expertise for the Future: the Emergence of “Relevant Knowledge” in Environmental Predictions and Global Change, c.1920-1970’ (with Sverker Sörlin) in Andersson, J., & Rindzeviciute, E., eds, The Struggle for the Long Term in Transnational Science and Politics during the Cold War (Abingdon: Routledge, 2015), 39-62.
‘History, science and environment policy’, in Pinto, P.R., & Taithe, B., eds, The Impact of History? Histories at the Beginning of the 21st Century (Abingdon, Routledge, 2015), 139-152.
‘Global crisis or global coincidence?’, Past and Present 228 (2015), 287-301.
‘The Role of Energy Quality in Shaping Long-Term Energy Intensity in Europe’, in Energies 8 (2015), 133-53, with Gentvilaite, R. and Kander, A.
‘Recovering the land-use history behind a Mediterranean edge environment: The importance of cultural landscapes in biological conservation’, in Journal of Applied Geography 54 (2014), 1-17, with Marull, J., Tello, E., Wilcox, P.T., Coll, F., Pons, M., Valldeperas, N., and Ollés, A.
‘Looking backwards into a Mediterranean edge environment: Landscape changes in El Congost Valley (Catalonia), 1850-2005’, with Tello, E., Valldeperas, N., Ollés, E., Marull, J., Coll, F., & Wilcox, P.T., Environment and History, 20 (2014), 347-384.
‘Imposition, emulation and adaptation: regulatory regimes in the commons of early modern Germany’, Environment and History, 19 (2013), 313-337.
‘The idea of improvement, c.1520-1700’, in Hoyle, R., ed., Custom, Improvement and the Landscape in Early Modern Britain (Farnham: Ashgate, 2011).
'Energy and natural resource dependence in Europe, 1500-1900’, in Rao, V., Woolcock, M.., & Szreter, S., eds, History, Historians and Development Policy. A Necessary Dialogue, (Manchester: Manchester UP, 2011)
‘The Invention of Sustainability’, Modern Intellectual History, 8 (2011), 153-170.
‘Energy availability from livestock and agricultural productivity in Europe, c.1800-1913: a new comparison’, Economic History Review, (1/2011), 1-29. With Astrid Kander.
‘The origins and development of institutional welfare support in early modern Württemberg. c.1500-1700’, Continuity & Change, (December 2007).
‘The Problem of the Problem of Environmental History – a Re-reading of the Field and Its Purpose’, Environmental History, (January 2007). With Sverker Sörlin.
‘The fear of wood shortage and the reality of the woodland in Europe, c.1450-1850’, History Workshop Journal, 62 (2006)
‘Subsistence and Sales. The Peasant Economy of Württemberg in the Early Seventeenth Century’, Economic History Review, (2/2006), 289-319.
'Waldnutzung, Landschaftsentwicklung und staatliche Reglementierung in der frühen Neuzeit', in Lorenz, S., Rückert, P., eds., Landnutzung und Landschaftsentwicklung im deutschen Südwesten. Zur Umweltgeschichte im späten Mittelalter und in der frühen Neuzeit, (Stuttgart, 2009)
‘The Environmental History of Pre-industrial Agriculture in Europe’, in Warde, P., & Sörlin, S., Nature’s End. History and the Environment (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2009)