PIIRS Climate Change and History Research Initiative

  • As part of the CCHRI's collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, both institutions will hold a joint 3-day interdisciplinary colloquium in Jena. 
  • On April 25, the CCHRI will hold its fifth annual colloquium at Princeton. Our annual colloquium this year focuses on climate and migration through an historical perspective. The colloquium will be a full day, with a keynote lecture delivered at its end. More details can be found under Events in this website.
  • We are glad to announce that during March 2019 the CCHRI will run two events in Europe for the first time! In the first, the CCHRI will collaborate with the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, to run a three day conference bringing together scholars from the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences.
  • We are glad to announce that we have published our 2015-2018 report, covering our entire first stage of support, on this page. The report covers our work over the past three years, describes the events we held and the publications that came out of the initiatives.
  • We are glad to announce that the special journal issue of Human Ecology, the result of our 2015 colloquium, is finally out! Although individual articles from the journal have been available since the beginning of 2018, they can now be accessed and read together in hard copy or online.
  • We are glad to announce that after reviewing our past accomplishments over the last three years, PIIRS decided to make an exception and renew the CCHRI's funding for an extra year! For 2018/9 we plan to continue our activities in Princeton and branch out to additional activities in Europe.
  • After three days of intriguing presentations, the CCHRI's fourth annual colloquium is over! The presenters discussed again how to consider the historical and natural sources together in a critical and responsible way, this time introducing several case studies from Africa and the pre-Columbian Americas.
  • As in previous years, we intend to finish the academic year with another CCHRI meeting, this time exploring our new topic, Society, Environment and Change in Historical Perspective with old and new colleagues and through an interdisciplinary approach.
  • Participants in the 2016 Palynology Workshop identifying pollen samples with the aid of a microscope. Over the workshop’s three days, participants learned how to use pollen data in their own historical research.
  • Climate Change and History Research Initiative Newsletter Spring 2016

A comparative approach to climate, environment and society in Eurasia: towards understanding the impact of climate on complex societies

This interdisciplinary project investigates the impact of climatic changes across the last two millennia on societies in two environmentally sensitive areas:

  • The eastern Mediterranean basin (including the Balkans, Anatolia and the Near and Middle East).
  • The eastern Eurasian steppe, in particular Mongolia and the regions north of China.

The main foci of the project are (1) the differential impacts of climate and environmental change on complex societies and state formation and (2) the impact of human society and polities on the environment. 

Two keywords embody the principles upon which the project is founded: consilience and resilience. The former reflects current efforts to integrate natural scientific with social scientific research techniques, methodologies and philosophies in a common effort; the latter reflects the leitmotif of the project, which is to investigate the ways in which climate and environmental stress has impacted on social, economic, political and cultural systems and to illustrate of the outcomes of these impacts. The aims are thus:

  • To expand the understanding of societal transformation and environmental evolution through a detailed historical analysis of the regions in question.
  • To generate new methodologies and research questions by integrating social and natural science approaches.

Through the development of this integrated and approach, the project generates a model of historical-evolutionary change. As noted already, the keyword is socio-cultural resilience, an understanding of the mechanisms underlying which is essential for insight into contemporary environmental change and the possibilities for future planning and policy.

So far we have held three multidisciplinary colloquia, eleven public lectures, and two introductory workshops for historians on the sciences of dendroclimatology and palynology. A special journal issue dedicated to the project’s research is in the making. Our plans for 2016/7 are listed under Upcoming Events below; our plans for 2017/8 will be announced in late spring 2017.

Upcoming Events

Resilience, environmental change and society: Perspectives from History and Prehistory

Mon, Mar 18, 2019, 12:00 pm to Wed, Mar 20, 2019, 6:00 pm

Organized jointly by Princeton University and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History at Jena

History, Environment and Climate: An Introductory Workshop

Fri, Mar 22, 2019, 9:00 am to Sat, Mar 23, 2019, 6:00 pm

An introductory workshop in Greece.

Climate, Environment and Migration in Historical Perspective: a colloquium

Thu, Apr 25, 2019 (All day)

The CCHRI's annual Colloquium at Princeton, this time featuring Maia Call (SESYNC), Kathryn de Luna (Georgetown), Nicola di Cosmo (IAS, Princeton...