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ISU, BSU, UI to co-host international conference on environmental history

February 15, 2008
ISU Marketing and Communications

Idaho State University, Boise State University and the University of Idaho will jointly host the American Society for Environmental History (ASEH) 2008 annual conference March 12 to 15 at the Boise Centre on the Grove.

The theme of the conference is “Agents of Change: People, Climate, and Places through Time.” The conference will focus on how human and non-human factors, including climate, together play a significant, interactive role in world history.

More than 500 participants from throughout North America, Europe, New Zealand, Australia and Africa are expected to attend, according to Kevin Marsh, Ph.D., ISU assistant professor of history, who is one of three co-chairs for the event. Though geared toward an academic audience – primarily historians and geographers – the conference will be of potential interest to students, the general public and journalists.

One highlight of the conference will be a keynote address by internationally acclaimed American journalist and best-selling author Mark Kurlansky. Kurlansky’s presentation “The Last Fish Tale” will be March 15 at 7 p.m. at the Boise Centre on the Grove.  Kurlansky is well known for his titles on diverse topics such as “Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World” and “The Basque History of the World.”

Kurlansky’s keynote presentation is open only to conference participants, but he will also deliver a free public lecture on Basque history at 7 p.m. on March 14 in the Basque Cultural Center, 601 Grove St., Boise. His visit is sponsored in part by the Idaho Humanities Council, the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies and the National Park Service.   

An additional highlight of the conference is an evening session on climate science and environmental history. This will feature an interactive discussion with two leading climate researchers, Stephen Schneider, Ph.D., of Stanford University and Patricia Romero-Lankao, Ph.D., of the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the Autonomous Metropolitan University in Mexico City. Both speakers are members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. The moderator of their discussion will be Nancy Langston, Ph.D., of the University of Wisconsin, who is president of the ASEH. This event will be held 5–6:30 p.m. March 13 at the Basque Cultural Center, 601 Grove St., Boise. It is sponsored by the ISU Cultural Affairs Council and the Boise State University Office of Research.

In addition to 79 panel discussions on a variety of topics, the conference will feature two workshops: “No Longer on the Fringe: The Wildland Urban Interface as History” and “Using GIS for Environmental History.”  The GIS workshop stems from ISU’s unique GIS-based graduate program in Historical Resources Management. Instructors in the GIS workshop include Keith Weber, director of the ISU GIS Training and Research Center, and ISU assistant professor of history Sarah Hinman, Ph.D. ISU graduate students will also serve as assistants in this hands-on workshop. Both workshops are now filled.

Conference registration by Feb. 15 is available at a reduced cost, starting at $95 for non-ASEH members and $40 for students or those registering for a single day. Special events throughout the conference, including the keynote banquet, lunch discussions, and field trips, are available for additional fees. Register online at

For more information, contact Dr. Kevin Marsh at (208) 282-2877,, or Dr. Lisa Brady at (208) 426-4309,

The full conference program is available online at the ASEH Web site,


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