Environment, Society, and the Making of the Modern World

Wednesday 14 - Friday 16 December 2016

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Reflecting on the legacy of the 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment for current institutional decision-making

Organized by The Laureate Research Program in International History, University of Sydney; the Division of History of Science, Technology and Environment with its KTH Environmental Humanities Laboratory, Stockholm; Joint Center for History and Economics, Harvard/Cambridge; and the Sydney Environment Institute.

In 1972 the Swedish government took the initiative in organizing what proved to be a landmark event – the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment. The approach of the fiftieth anniversary of this conference offers a timely opportunity to consider the role of international institutions in tackling the reciprocal impact of humans and the environment, as well as the history of the discourses of economic inequality, debates over rights to natural resources, and more. As an event that brought together activists and indigenous peoples as well as policy-makers and experts, the Stockholm Conference raised fundamental questions regarding the global governance of environmental challenges.

Some of the themes to be addressed include:
• the rise of environmental NGOs
• the role of regional, transnational, international institutions in tackling environmental issues
• the international conceptualization of ‘human environment’, and ‘climate change’
• the social and political history of international environmentalism
• the history of the economic framing of environmental issues
• the evolution of debates over rights to natural resources, with particular focus on indigenous peoples and the so-called “developing world”
• the international legal history of environmentalism
• the role of the Cold War in international environment history
• postcolonial, colonial, and imperial framings of the intersecting issues of climate and capital
• the UN Conference 1972 as a defining Stockholm moment and a ‘site of international memory’

Vanessa Ogle, University of Pennsylvania
Glenda Sluga, University of Sydney
Sverker Sörlin, KTH Stockholm

We invite scholars interested in submitting a paper for the workshop to send an abstract of 300- 500 words, as well as a brief CV, by Monday 14 December 2015, to Martin King (martin.king@sydney.edu.au).