The Centre for World Environmental History (CWEH) was launched in May 2002 under the aegis of the School of African and Asian Studies at the University of Sussex. It was funded for an initial three year period by the Research and Development Fund of the University. CWEH has now raised funds from the Leverhulme Trust, the AHRC and the British Academy for independent projects.
The creation of CWEH initative was a response to specialist courses and research conducted by Sussex faculty for over nine years in tropical and 'Southern' environmental history at, what was then, AFRAS and elsewhere in the University and within the Institute of Development Studies. Sussex University has a long research tradition focussed on environment and development problems in the tropics as well as a close relationship with the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), located on the Sussex campus, which is Britain's leading organisation carrying out research on social and economic processes and problems. Sussex University also has a solid tradition in radical history and the history of material culture and peasant society in the Global South, exemplified in the work of Professor Ranajit Guha and the Subaltern Studies School.
'The Centre has a Director, Research Director, Faculty Associates, Visiting Research Fellows and Associates and Doctoral Associates. It has a close collaborative relationship involving frequent staff exchanges with the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India and the CNRS French Institute in the Union Territory of Pondicherry, India. The Centre is currently collaborating with Kew Gardens, The Botanical Survey of India, and JNU on a project on Joseph Hooker and India and with the British Library and the U.K. Met office on a project on historical records and climate change. It is also collaborating on two other projects on plant transfers led by Heather Goodhall and Jodi Frawley at the Institute of Technology, University of Sydney and on a project on Human environment interactions in the Indian Ocean World,1500-1900 with the University of McGill
The centre runs five networks:
- Botanical and Meteorogical History of the Indian Ocean 1600-1900
- Mines, Water and Energy network
- Academia and Activism network
- Historical Climatology
- Climate Change and the Humanities
CWEH's interdisciplinary perspective on complex issues is exemplified by its doctoral associates. It provides a intellectual home for both Sussex graduates and visiting graduates who are integral to contributing to CWEHs ever expanding areas of research.The multidisciplinary nature of CWEH research faculty means that doctoral students have access to a range of expertise as well as to contribute to it. They also form an active social community, organising workshops and networks. Visiting doctoral associates are also welcome.
Photos: 1. Forest reserve, Tobago. 2. Gullying in Lesotho. 3. Diana's Peak, St Helena.