Centre for Environment, Heritage and Policy

About the Centre

Welcome to the Centre for Environmental History and Policy (CEHP) website. We were originally established in 1999 and the Centre has always been strongly inter-disciplinary in outlook and research, looking to combine the best research in the Humanities and the Sciences to further advance our knowledge and understanding of the environment. By learning from the past we can inform future policy decisions. The management board of the Centre comprises internationally-recognised scholars from the School of Arts and Humanities and the School of Natural Sciences.

The Centre is fundamentally interdisciplinary in both concept and practice. Its research involves input from a range of disciplinary backgrounds, including History, Politics, the Environmental Sciences, and Law. Much of this research directly feeds back into our practice-led undergraduate and postgraduate teaching. Environmental History modules can now be studied during all four years of an undergraduate B.A. degree and we run a very successful and popular Master of Research (M.Res) postgraduate degree programme. This combines four taught modules with a specific research project in one year of study and can lead to doctoral research. The Centre is also currently home to eleven students studying for the degree of PhD.


What is Environmental History?

Environmental History provides an indispensable long-term perspective on change. Important concepts like socio-economic sustainability, the maintenance of biodiversity and climate change are meaningless unless viewed in context. In a new millennium where profound environmental problems are becoming increasingly pressing, and decision-making more critical, this perspective will become even more essential. What is seen through contemporary eyes as abrupt and unpredictable becomes cyclic and comprehensible when viewed at appropriate timescales.

The past can also be searched for analogies to current and future developments, and, although by no means precisely replicable, the potential pattern of future change can be defined. Equally importantly, society's responses to pressures and the rationale behind past decision-making are there for us to understand and learn from - public opinion and the willingness to change patterns of behaviour are just as important for future environmental good practice as understanding the scientific mechanisms of environmental change. Environmental history, which integrates both historical and scientific datasets when providing this long-term perspective, will, ultimately, provide the why as well as the how of environmental change.

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