Climate History Network

A network of interdisciplinary scholars studying past climate change

Climate History Network Open Meeting at ICHG 2015

London. Source: By Andrea Williams, Colorado State University

The Climate History Network held an open meeting over lunch at the International Conference of Historical Geographers (ICHG) on July 6, 2015. Approximately 37 people were present. Sam White reported briefly on the network’s activities, proposed a few areas of focus for feedback, and moderated the discussion.

Climate History Network Activities

Sam described the network’s initiative to target ICHG by coordinating a number of panels in climate history and by organizing the Climate History Network meeting and listing it on the conference program. The effort to coordinate panels has proved a great success. Nearly every time slot of this conference has included a climate history panel, and the panels have been well attended by the CHN community. Likewise, this CHN meeting was successful in drawing a good crowd, and publicizing it clearly helped.

In addition, the CHN organizers recently surveyed members about their wishes and ideas for the network’s future, and Sam discussed the results of that survey. Members indicated that they particularly appreciated CHN’s bibliographic and data resources as well as its potential for networking and collaboration among members. Based on these results, Sam suggested building on the current network as it stands, rather than trying to construct a more formal society at this time.

Feedback Target Areas

At the meeting, Sam asked for feedback from those present in a few specific areas: 1) creating and maintaining a listserv, 2) whether to meet at an established conference or establish our own, 3) whether to make the network more policy relevant (and if so, how), 4) how to reach and engage a more global membership, 5) funding for and through the network, and 6) expansion of the network’s bibliographic research database.

1. Listserv: Those in attendance strongly supported the creation of a listserv, making a few key points:

  • A listserv provides a way to reach members who may forget or be too busy to check the website for updates
  • The listserv is a way to distribute the newsletter that CHN organizers are working to establish
  • It can be used to alert members of jobs, workshops and publications, and provide a vehicle for communication among members
  • Members of ICHM (historical meteorology) present at the meeting were receptive to the idea of opening up their established listserv to CHN

2. Conference Planning: We talked extensively about this issue. Those present at the meeting expressed two distinct perspectives on conferences, with some advocating for the establishment of an independent conference and others preferring the idea of coordinating panels and meetings at an established conference, as CHN did this year at ICHG. Both sides stressed the importance of keeping conferences affordable for attendees. A third idea proposed that CHN might develop 1-2 days of climate history / historical climatology sessions as an appendix to an existing conference. This option could be a way to reconcile the two perspectives by incorporating many positive aspects of both. The upcoming European Geophysical Union (EGU) Conference in Vienna was identified as a possible target.

3. and 4. were not discussed in detail.

5. Funding: We briefly discussed a few potential awards and funding possibilities that CHN might provide, such as an annual article award and graduate student travel support for conferences and workshops. Such initiatives would require CHN to gain non-profit status and seek grants, donations, and other financial resources.

6. Bibliographic Database: Sam encouraged members to share sources and news with him so that we can maintain useful and up-to-date resources on the CHN website. Our Zotero database already has over 1,000 publications, but the field is growing fast!

We concluded the meeting by encouraging those present to be active, engaged participants in the development and future of the Climate History Network. The organizers, Sam and Dagomar, need help in order to sustain and extend the reach of CHN. Its value and success depend on active, continued support from its members.

About D Degroot

I am an assistant professor of environmental history at Georgetown University. My research explores flexibility and resilience in the face of climate change across the early modern world. I am the co-administrator of the Climate History Network, and the administrator of For more about my work, visit

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This entry was posted on July 9, 2015 by in Events and Meetings, In the News.
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