Professor Paul Warde
I work on environmental, economic and social history. My interests focus on natural resource use and its role in shaping working lives, communities, societies and economic development. In 2018 saw the publication of two major works on the history of environmental and economic thought, The Invention of Sustainability: Nature and Destiny 1500-1870 (Cambridge University Press) and The Environment: a History of the Idea (Johns Hopkins University Press), the latter written with Libby Robin and Sverker Sorlin.
Current research work focuses on the economy, relations with the landscape and the experience of change in south and mid-Ulster during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; and the Hebrides, especially Tiree, during that same period. I am also developing a longstanding interest in the provision of vegetable alkalis to the industrialising economy as an essential underpinning of the early 'chemical industry': potash, seaweed, and barilla.
I am also part of the SPHERE project on the emergence of ideas of global environmental governance, based at KTH Stockholm. In regard to this project I am currently developing work on ideas of limits in global resources (especially energy) and also looking at the reception of ideas about environmental limits and policy in UK farming since the 1960s.
I have published and edited many books, articles and chapters, primarily on the history of early modern and modern Europe. These include works 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 of shifts from 'traditional' energy carriers to fossil fuels and new renewable forms of energy supply; on energy and resources embodied in traded goods, especially during the 'First Globalisation' period of c.1870-1930s; on early modern economic thought; and on common property systems.
I am Director of the Centre for History and economics, Magdalene College, University of Cambridge; and Research Director of the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure. I edit the journal Agricultural History Review.
I am currently supervising four PhD students: on ideas about energy, geopolitics and civilization in late 19th and early 20th century Europe; on the development of the European wind turbine industry; on industrialization in late 19th and early 20 century Silesia;and on the place of environmental understanding in the thinking and public education of British botanical gardens, post-1960.
Other recent topics include the occupational structure of late imperial China; the environmental history of the development of the British National Grid; and knowledge of seeds in seventeenth-century England; the impact of stock collapses in the American seafood industry and diets; and Scottish industrialisation c.1760-1840.
I would welcome research students interested in the environmental and economic history of early modern and industrializing Europe, especially Ireland, Germany, Scandinavia, and Britain; agricultural history; and the energy history of the modern world; and the history of environmental thought.
I teach the Part II specified subjects 'The Problem of Sustainability, 1500-1987', and the M.Phil option course 'Environmental Arguments'. I also lecture for various Part I options on themes of environmental and economic history.
Editor, Agricultural History Review.
Tags & Themes
Faculty of History