CFP: HSS 2015 Panel: Histories of Environmental Impact Assessment

The implementation of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) procedures has transformed science, nature, and societies across the planet over the last half century. The vector for this transformation has been the “environmental impact statement,” a document, prepared by teams of scientists, that incorporates the likely social and/or ecological effects of development into the design stage of major projects. Through public comment periods and review hearings, EIA has also provided citizens with unprecedented access to science and bureaucracy.
Despite the force of these historical changes, historians of science have a thin understanding of EIA. EIA rarely figures into our narratives of 20th century science, environmentalism, science in the federal government, vernacular science, (post)colonialism, or the relations of natural and social sciences. Our proposed panel would explore EIA in a variety of ways to make contributions to these narratives.
We seek one or two panelists to explore EIA in the history of science, from any of the above angles or alternative ones. Our own research considers how EIA processes provided new understandings of nature, development, and governance in the colonial spaces of the Panama Canal and western Arctic over the last third of the 1900s. Papers from graduate students are preferred.
Please contact Andrew Stuhl ( or Christine Keiner ( with any questions or interests.