Making the environmental sciences: imaginaries, interdisciplinarity and Zuckerman

Elliot Honeybun-Arnolda (3S Research Group, UEA)

3S Seminar, 17th March, 16:00-17:00 BST on MS Teams (please email Mandy Harmer <> if you would like to attend, an invite will be sent the day before the seminar).

The environmental sciences are a relatively new branch of the history of science. Little is known about the origin of environmental sciences, yet environmental challenges run through society, intimately woven across all aspects of life. This paper seeks to contribute to a historiography of the environmental sciences by revealing the particular socio-political and institutional arrangements that paved the way for a new form of scientific knowledge to be made about a new object of concern, ‘the environment’. This paper uses a case-study of the School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia (ENV), that formed in 1967 and set out, in the main, as a school principally focused on interdisciplinary research to tackle the pressing environmental issues of the time. Primarily using archival material and document analysis, this paper will discuss the conditions preceding the emergence of ENV as an institution, as a new site of scientific knowledge- making aligned to enable certain kinds of futures. It will also explore how ENV was both shaped by, and helped shape, broader socio-political and environmental developments in post-War Britain. In doing so, this paper seeks to advance a history of science by exploring the role of a modern university institution as a site of knowledge-making in the entangled and diverse field of the environmental sciences.