From: Lisa Mighetto <>
Subject: ASEH News Fall 2012
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         fall 2012                               volume 23, issue 3
in this issue (right columns)
president's column: volunteering at aseh
the profession: history at the NRC
member news
announcements: award submissions, fellowships available, and positions open
attention: graduate students
Toronto conference 2013


Our conference in Toronto will include the following:
  • plenary session on "The Fossil Fuel Dilemma: Vision, Values, and Technoscience in the Alberta Oil Sands"
  • 100 sessions
  • workshop for grad students
  • field trips, including visit to Niagara Falls


Click here for info on travel grants, hotel, and more
posters in Toronto
the poster reception at our 2012 conference was well attended

Our conference in Toronto will include a poster presentation and reception. We will award a prize for the most effective poster. If you are interested in presenting a poster, send your name, affiliation, and poster title to
by October 31, 2012.
mark your calendars: aseh reception in New Orleans
If you plan to attend the AHA's meeting in New Orleans in Jan. 2013, stop by our reception on Friday evening, Jan. 4, 5:30-7:00 p.m.
New Orleans Marriott, La Galerie 5
update on Advisory Board for Professional Development and Public Engagement
Earlier this year, our executive committee established a new advisory board, which is now working on establishing paid internships, organizing job fairs, and other activities to help inform students about career opportunities outside the university. New programs will be announced in 2013 and at our conference in Toronto.
On a related note, The Chronicle of Higher Education addressed non-faculty careers in a recent article titled "In Search of Hard Data on Non-Academic Careers." The article includes a link to a survey by the Scholarly Communication Institute. Click here for more info.
The current issue of Environmental History (Oct. 2012) opens with a review essay on "An Eco-Political Vision for Environmental History: Toward a Latin American and North American Research Partnership," and a gallery piece on "The March of Bricks and Mortar." 
aseh news
Published quarterly by the American Society for Environmental History. If you have an article, announcement, or an item for the "member news" section of our next newsletter, send to
by December 7, 2012.
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president's column: volunteering at aseh

Since January - presumably for my sins - I have been simultaneously President of the ASEH and one of three Vice-Presidents of the American Historical Association. After decades innocent of leading roles in any scholarly societies, I find myself doing double duty. Fortunately for me, my kids are all of an age at which they need less of my attention than at any point in the last 21 years, and indeed would be pleased to receive still less parental guidance than I provide them. This concatenation of circumstances inspires me to ponder the mission of scholarly societies rather more than before, which is to say, more than zero.


Since their inception, which may arguably date to 1488 and the formation of Poland's Sodalitas Litterarum Vistulana, scholarly societies have had multiple missions. Their first and foremost goal has been to promote intellectual activity, mainly through scholarly meetings and journals. Some societies also function as guilds or as advocates for their members' interests. ASEH focuses on the former, although with the recent formation of an Advisory Board for Professional Development and Public Engagement, it is doing a bit more of the latter.


In my last column I wrote about the intellectual health of environmental history. Here I will turn to the institutional health of ASEH as a scholarly society. Permanently parlous finances aside, I find the ASEH in robust good health. The basis for that diagnosis is the readiness of its members to serve the organization.The lifeblood of any scholarly society consists of the willingness of its members to donate their time to its less glamorous but essential functions. In our case, this mainly means sitting on standing committees - which sounds precarious and can be awkward indeed when the time commitments are considered.


At last count, 97 members of ASEH serve in one or more volunteer capacity. As President, I have asked a goodly number of folks to serve on one of our 13 committees, and have never yet been turned down without a compelling reason. Another 24 members of our society serve on the editorial board of Environmental History.


volunteers help with registration at an ASEH conference

Members of these committees devote long hours to serving ASEH. Our conferences get bigger every year, and the contributions of the site selection, program, and local arrangement committees are essential for organizing the speakers, sessions, and events that make our meetings successful. The education, diversity, and outreach committees organize activities that enhance our conference program and connect our members with local communities. Our awards and fellowship committees review and evaluate a burgeoning number of submissions and applications, which allows ASEH to reward top scholarship and promote research. The journal editors, editorial board, and management group ensure that Environmental History remains in the forefront of the field. There are other committees as well. For a complete list, see:


In closing, I want to express my thanks to all 121 ASEH members whose efforts keep our society humming healthily. Many more have served in the past. Naming you all would require all my column space. But you know who you are.


-John McNeill


PS: Anyone interested in serving on a committee should please contact


the profession: history at the nuclear regulatory commission

by Thomas Wellock, Nuclear Regulatory Commission


After fifteen years as a history professor, I didn't think I'd become a public historian. But in 2010 when the Nuclear Regulatory Commission sought to replace its retiring historian, J. Samuel Walker, I realized I'd been preparing for this job all my adult life. While my publications on the history of the antinuclear were important to advancing my candidacy for the job, it was my non-academic career that made me stand out. My time as an engineer in the nuclear industry had once seemed like lost career time. But like my colleague, Lincoln Bramwell, who worked for nearly ten years as a fire fighter with the U.S. Forest Service before becoming its historian, I learned that federal agencies esteem historians with practical experience and a personal connection to their mission.

The work of a federal historian is a varied mixture of public outreach, archivist work, historic preservation, and scholarly research. As such, applying for these positions requires careful research into how an agency has used its historians. Unlike the two-day campus interview typical for academic positions, a job candidate might only have a one-hour interview to impress his future boss. She will be less interested in the thesis of your dissertation than gauging your general competence and familiarity with her agency. Thorough preparation with concise answers is essential.

At the NRC, I do public outreach by writing blog posts and narrating YouTube videos on agency history. I also respond to public and agency staff questions that require historical research and write brief historical reports related to topics of current interest to the NRC commissioners and staff. I also oversee the preservation of NRC commissioner records. 

Tom at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station unit 1 control room

 My main responsibility is to write scholarly articles and books on the agency's history. I have great freedom to choose topics that provide context on current issues facing the NRC staff and its interested public. It is a task that taps my technical experience as an engineer and the broader historical perspective I gained on nuclear issues in writing about the environmental movement. Currently, I am working on the history of efforts to prevent severe reactor accidents, a study that will stretch from the early 1960s up through the recent accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.     

For those interested in positions with federal agencies, my experience suggests that an uninterrupted pursuit of a Ph.D. may not always make for the best job candidate. Even if you haven't made a career detour like mine, well-chosen technical training, summer jobs, internships, and volunteer positions can demonstrate to agencies your knowledge of and interest in what they do.

member news


Michael A. Osborne, Oregon State University, was honored as a co-recipient of the Berendel Foundation's Cantemir Prize for intercultural humanism for an article co-authored with Richard S. Fogarty titled "Eugenics in France and the Colonies," pp. 332-246, in P. Levine and A. Brashford, eds. Oxford Handbook of the History of Eugenics (2010). He was also awarded a Visiting Director of Research post at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales for 2011-2012, and is currently Senior Fellow at the Aix-Marseille Institute for Advanced Study, 2011-2013. 


Cindy Ott, St. Louis University, published Pumpkin: The Curious History of an American Icon (University of Washington Press, 2012).


In Fall 2012, Tyler Priest joined the University of Iowa faculty as an associate professor of history and geography.

Hayden R. Smith published "In the Land of Cypress and Pine: An Environmental History of the Santee Experimental Forest, 1683-1937," describining the land use history of the Santee Experimental Forest in the lower coastal plain of South Carolina (Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-155. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Southern Research Station).  Electronic copies of the paper are available at:


Additional collaborations regarding the environmental history of the Forest are welcome. See: 


Remin University of China (Beijing) recently opened its new Center for Ecological History. Donald Worster will serve as honorary director and part-time resident teacher and advisor. The mission of the Center is to promote ecological and environmental work in Chinese and world history and to establish better communications with scholars in other countries. The Center welcomes scholars from all over the world to come and present their work to our researeh  community and learn more about China's long and rich history of human-environment interactions.


ASEH award submissions for 2012 - second notice
This year ASEH's prize committees will evaluate submissions (published books and articles and completed dissertations) that appear between November 1, 2011 and October 31, 2012.
Please send three copies of each submission of books and articles (these must be hard copies, or paper copies) by November 9, 2012 to:  
Lisa Mighetto
ASEH, UW Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences Program
University of Washington
1900 Commerce Street
Tacoma, WA 98402
electronic submission of dissertations:
We encourage electronic submissions of your dissertation, if your dissertation was approved between Nov. 1, 2011 and Oct. 31, 2012. Submit in pdf format as a single file less than 5 megabytes in size to by November 9, 2012
Samuel P. Hays Research Fellowship
ASEH created this fellowship to recognize the contributions of Samuel P. Hays, the inaugural recipient of the society's Distinguished Scholar Award, and to advance the field of environmental history, broadly conceived. The fellowship provides a single payment of $1,000 to help fund travel to and use of an archive or manuscript repository. It is open to practicing historians (either academic, public, or independent). Graduate students are ineligible. A Ph.D. is not required. Submissions will be accepted until September 30, 2012, and the recipient will be selected and notified in December 2012 for funding in January 2013.
To apply, please submit the following items: 

  • A two-page statement (500 words) explaining your project and how you intend to use the research funds
  • A c.v. no more than two pages in length.

All items for the Samuel P. Hays Research Fellowship must be submitted electronically to Phil Garone, chair of the committee, by September 30, 2012 at
Hal Rothman Research Fellowship
The Hal Rothman Research Fellowship was created to recognize graduate student achievements in environmental history research in honor of Hal Rothman, recipient of ASEH's Distinguished Service award in 2006 and editor of Environmental History for many years. The fellowship provides a single payment of $1,000 for Ph.D. graduate student research and travel in the field of environmental history, without geographical restriction. The funds must be used to support archival research and travel during 2013.
Students enrolled in any Ph.D. program worldwide are eligible to apply. Applications will be accepted until September 30, 2012, and the recipient will be selected and notified in December 2012, for funding in January 2013.
To apply, please submit the following three items:


  • two-page statement (500 words) explaining your project and how you intend to use the research funds
  • A c.v.
  • A letter of recommendation from your graduate advisor.

All items for the Hal Rothman Research Fellowship must be submitted electronically to by September 30, 2012.


Positions Open


Assistant professor positions available at The College of Staten Island, Ohio State University, Bucknell College, and Centre College. Click here for more info.



attention: graduate students


Travel grants are available for those presenting at ASEH's Toronto conference. Click here for more info.


ASEH graduate student liaison position available

Each year, ASEH's graduate student caucus selects a new liaison to the executive committee. ASEH will provide the recipient a $500 USD travel subsidy to attend the 2013 executive committee meeting on Saturday afternoon, April 6 in Toronto. Attendance at the ASEH executive committee meeting on Saturday afternoon is required, as is consulting with grad students and the grad student caucus throughout the year. The term of the position will run from January 1 to December 31, 2013. If you are interested in this position, please e-mail a one-page statement describing your interest in this position, and if, applicable, past involvement in ASEH activities, to Kara Schlichting, current liaison, at:


The deadline is November 15, 2012. Please note that grad students can apply for both this position and an ASEH travel grant, but can receive only one in 2013.

Call to Graduate Students for Writing Workshop at 2013 ASEH conference in Toronto


At the ASEH conference to be held this spring in Toronto, the graduate student caucus is hosting a graduate student writing workshop during the 1:30 p.m. session, Saturday April 6, 2013.


Participants will join in small discussion groups with other students assigned to one faculty member, so that attendees can count on about 15 minutes of discussion focused on their ideas. M.A. thesis proposals and independent researchers are also welcome.


The purpose of this session is to provide a forum for graduate students to develop their research projects. Participants will submit a draft (10-15 pages maximum). Each participant will read the proposals of fellow group members and be prepared to discuss them during the session. Selections from chapters, articles, or substantive sections from proposals are welcome. The workshop groups will be organized by similar topic to facilitate discussion.


In this workshop we will emphasize the following: 

  • cultivating your research ideas--from the first idea for a project, to chapter organization and revision, to shaping proposals and abstracts
  • writing, and
  • how to get useful feedback

The Writing Workshop is part of ASEH's and the graduate student caucus's commitment to the organizations' tradition of providing graduate students with a helpful intellectual and social climate to support and encourage graduate student research.


To participate, please submit a one-page paper overview (double-spaced), and a one-paragraph bio regarding your work and educational background, and your contact information to the Kara Schlichting ( by Friday, December 7, 2012.


Applicants will be notified of their acceptance by early January 2013. The complete application will be due via e-mail by Friday, March 1, 2013. The bio and overview will be used to form discussion groups and will be read by your faculty convener. The proposal will be shared within workshops groups.


Careers Beyond the Academy: A Luncheon Roundtable for Graduate Students
Saturday April 6, 2013, ASEH Toronto Conference


This luncheon is designed to facilitate the ongoing conversation within ASEH about jobs for environmental historians. "Careers Beyond the Academy" will provide a forum for graduate students to learn about job searches beyond academia and connect graduate students with environmental professionals. The roundtable will feature representatives from careers in government agencies, museums, NGOs, consulting firms, and other professional paths outside the university.


Panelists and the luncheon cost will be announced later this fall.


The graduate student caucus will meet in Toronto - time to be announced later this fall. If you have questions, contact Kara Schlichting, graduate student liaison at:


Our 2013 conference will include a trip to Niagara Falls
aseh news is a publication of the American Society for Environmental History
John McNeill, Georgetown University, President
Gregg Mitman, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Vice President/President Elect
Mark Madison, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Treasurer
Ellen Stroud, Bryn Mawr College, Secretary

Executive Committee:
Sterling Evans, University of Oklahoma
Sara Gregg, University of Kansas
Marcus Hall, University of Zurich
Tina Loo, University of British Columbia
Linda Nash, University of Washington
Louis Warren, University of California-Davis
Graeme Wynn, Univeristy of British Columbia
Ex Officio, Past Presidents:
Nancy Langston, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Stephen Pyne, Arizona State University
Harriet Ritvo, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Ex Officio, Editor, Environmental History:
Nancy Langston, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Lisa Brady, Boise State University [incoming editor]

Ex Officio, Executive Director and Editor, aseh news:
Lisa Mighetto, University of Washington-Tacoma
Graduate Student Liaison:
Kara Schlichting, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

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