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Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine

Climate and environmental management

CHSTM 035-bottle-banks-(2)
One response to perceptions of a looming sustainability crisis.

Research in the history of the environmental sciences at CHSTM covers two broad areas. The first focuses on the social origins of modern environmental medicine around 1750-1850, looking at occupational and domestic exposure to pathological surroundings. The other considers historical and current uses of the concept of climate in social, economic and scientific discourse, with a particular emphasis on the role of environmental emergency and the construction of 'disaster' research.

Common to both themes is the argument that the 'invention of environment' reflects a re-allocation of causes of social change from human to non-human agency. We pursue this claim in cases ranging from the technologies of indoor climates to dress reform, from the theological to medical meanings of extreme weather, and from the changing meanings of climate to the institutionalization of climate research. These concerns are unified through consideration of the various historical forms of climatological 'emergency management'.

Two doctoral dissertation currently in progress look at how twentieth-century scientific and political institutions in US and UK have identified, managed, and paid the costs of major floods and storm surges. A key goal is to connect in-depth historical studies to contemporary concerns over the permanent state of environmental emergency, especially in relation to the predicted effects of anthropogenic climate change.

This approach is now being directed towards urban-level climate change, via an ESRC-funded project on Climate Science in Urban Design. The project, developed by Vladimir Jankovic of CHSTM and colleagues from the Manchester Architecture Research Centre (MARC), addresses applied urban climatology across a timeframe from 1950 to the present, including seminal work by German and Japanese urban climatologists alongside the more recent climate policy initiatives of New York City and the City of Manchester.

Recent publications by CHSTM staff and students

Vladimir Jankovic. Climates of discomfort. New York: Palgrave, forthcoming 2010.

Vladimir Jankovic and Christine Barboza, eds. Weather, local knowledge and everyday life. Rio de Janeiro: Mast, 2009.

Anna Carlsson. "What is a storm?: severe weather and public life in Britain in January 1928". In Jankovic and Barboza (above).

Vladimir Jankovic. "The wind Euroclydon: climatological hermeneutics from Bishop Berkelely to Captain Smith". In Alessandro Nova and Michalsky (eds), Wind un Wetter. Rome: Marsilio, 2009.

Vladimir Jankovic. "Change in the Weather". Bookforum, 2005.

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