I first encountered the field of environmental history while I was undergrad at The University of New Hampshire. At one point I planned to pursue a degree in geology, but I ended up being better at digging in the archives than digging in the dirt.
I journeyed to UW-Madison for graduate school and had the good fortune of being surrounded by a group of faculty and grad students who were dedicated to interdisciplinary approaches to studying environmental change. In 2007 the Center for Culture, History, and Environment (CHE) was launched as part of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, and I was proud to call CHE my intellectual home for many years.
In 2007 I produced an MA thesis on the political and cultural debates over the fluoridation of water in the 1950s. In turn, this research lead me to explore a group of publishers who were instrumental in popularizing concerns about toxic chemical exposures in the postwar era.
One of those publishers, the Rodale Press, was foundational in promoting organic gardening and farming in the United States. In studying a publishing company, I became more interested in the intersection of popular culture and environmentalism in the mid-twentieth century – a subject that continues to turn up new insights into human relationships with the environment.
My forthcoming book, The Organic Profit: Rodale and the Making of Marketplace Environmentalism (University of Washington Press, 2018) is an environmental and cultural history that explores how organic moved from the margins to the mainstream. At the same time, the book raises critical questions about the possibilities and the limits of the marketplace as a site of environmental thought and action.
For the past several years I have been working as a teaching fellow in the Department of Environmental Science and Studies at Washington College in Chestertown, MD. I teach a range of first-year seminars on subjects ranging from trash to the global history of water. My upper level courses focus on health, media and the environment, environmental justice, political ecology, as well as environmental history.