Grant: $489,371 - National Science Foundation - Jun. 9, 2009
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Award Description: This research project is the US contribution to a nine-member, seven-nation research study titled, 'Colony, Empire, Environment: A Comparative International History of Twentieth Century Arctic Science (CEE). One of seven research teams funded within the framework of the European Science Foundation EUROCORES initiative 'BOREAS: Histories from the North,' the CEE Project will produce a comparative international history of changing conceptions of the Arctic landscape, its scope ranging from science to art. The larger collaborative project will increase understanding of field stations and their role in research, as well as how international polar conflicts, with their resultant demand for particular kinds of geographic knowledge, shaped perceptions of the Arctic and research undertaken there. Within this international collaboration, 'Constituting the Arctic Environment: How U.S. Military Patronage after World War II influenced the Environmental Sciences in the Far North will examine the role of the military in shaping public understanding of the Arctic and influencing the environmental sciences. Military fascination with the Arctic created new research institutions and provided abundant funding to address broad interdisciplinary problems. It helped shape a distinct form of the environmental sciences in the United States before the environmental movement (which emphasized the biological sciences of ecology, genetics, and natural history) gained ground in the 1960s and early 1970s. Here, utilitarian and operational concerns were paramount. Why investigate this topic? Global warming, long-term climate change, the spread of bomb-produced radiation in the environment, the discovery of vast oceanic current systems and the plate tectonics revolution: all were issues that physical environmental scientists pursued from the 1950s forward. By exploring recently declassified archival holdings, and through oral history interviews with key practitioners, this study will produce not just a history of science in the north, but a major contribution to understanding the rise of the environmental sciences in the twentieth century, one that illuminates important issues in environmental history as well as history of recent science. To pursue this study, the PI (in addition to doing archival research in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, and conducting interviews) will carefully review primary source materials; examine relevant existing scholarly works; then produce narratives and analyses drawing on these materials, addressing the guiding questions of this study. These results – ranging from popular accounts, scholarly articles, and book chapters – will be disseminated to specific audiences: the general public, scholars in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences, and policy-makers. Among the individuals for whom jobs will be created are the following: the PI, who will receive salary that permits him to ‘buy out’ from teaching obligations to pursue this research; two graduate students, who will receive half-time support for at least one year; a postdoctoral researcher, who will receive support for one academic year; and undergraduate students hired on an hourly basis to assist in research. Beyond job creation and job retention, this research has several broader impacts. The CEE project [headed by the PI] will contribute a greatly improved understanding of Arctic scientific research during the twentieth century, as well as deeper insight into the shifting meaning and significance of the northern landscape as colonialism was replaced by cold war military activities and ultimately increased native autonomy. Moreover, understanding history is critical for developing good policy. While the Cold War has ended, the role that national security concerns played in determining what kinds of knowledge were valued (and which were largely ignored) has shaped what we know about the north to this day.
Project Description: We have made considerable progress since the grant was awarded. Historical writing requires considerable research in historical archives. For recent historical events, historians also conduct interviews with individuals familiar with key developments. To better understand relevant and related research done by colleagues, historians not only read their historical work but also reunite with them at conferences and workshops to better allow direct discussion and make possible new insights. In addition to their own writing, senior historians mentor junior colleagues and train graduate students at their home institutions. The Principal Investigator (PI) has been involved in all of these activities during the third quarter of 2009. He did archival research in the Library and Archives Canada [Ottawa], reviewing files that document U.S. and Canadian investigations in the Arctic region. He prepared for new interviews to be done with northern researchers, and began compiling information from previously acquired archival documents. He also prepared two articles which will be published later this year. (One will appear in translation in the French journal Revue d’Histoire Modern et Contemporaine, spreading word of U.S. research to European audiences.) One of the most significant events that this grant helped make possible was a meeting of the international research group 'Colony, Empire, Environment in Iqaluit, Nunavut territory, Canada in early September (the PI also serves as Project Leader for this group). This workshop allowed us to fruitfully integrate our research with Canadian and European colleagues. In addition to employing the PI during this period [part of his salary is grant-funded], two students will be hired on as part-time research assistants. Soon we hope to recruit a History Ph.D. student as a Research Assistant on this project later this academic year—providing crucial support as well as mentoring.
Jobs Summary: We were able to retain one faculty position with the funds from this award. (Total jobs reported: 1)
Project Status: Less Than 50% Completed
This award's data was last updated on Jun. 9, 2009. Help expand these official descriptions using the wiki below.