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Commentary

Commentary from the CHE community on current events, contemporary issues, and scholarly debates.

A portrait of the writer William deBuys. Photo by Ben Moscona.

Hunting a Unicorn: A Conversation with William deBuys

The preeminent environmental writer and conservationist ventures into the mountains of Laos to find one of Earth’s rarest creatures and returns believing well-crafted narratives showcasing the beauty of nature can help to fight the Sixth Extinction.

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A booth set up by the Department of Entomology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on State Street during Earth Week. Photo by Michael Sievers, 1970.

The Trouble with the March for Science: A Conversation with Adam Rome

What if today’s climate activists acted more like the scientists who spoke out on the first Earth Day?

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A Syllabus for Teaching Water Politics

A new syllabus outlines a series of readings for teaching the politics of water.

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The City of Chicago / sketched & drawn on stone by Parsons & Atwater. https://www.loc.gov/item/90715977/

Nature’s Metropolis Turns 25: A Conversation with William Cronon

An urban history nearly devoid of people nonetheless holds lessons for communal human life today.

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A photograph of Jedediah Purdy, taken by Brian Hamilton, March 2017.

Politics for a Maimed World: A Conversation with Jedediah Purdy

The acclaimed cultural critic and author of “After Nature” set off to explore the uncharted depths of the Anthropocene. But he found Thoreau there waiting for him.

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A portrait of Dr. Tyrone Hayes. Photo by Brian Hamilton, February 17, 2017.

Learning from Einstein and Tupac: A Conversation with Tyrone Hayes

The biologist who became famous standing up to agribusiness reflects on the politics of science, getting mistaken for a conspiracy theorist, and the unexpected ways race and gender matter in the academy today.

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Life-sized diorama of ice age megafauna trapped in a salt lick at Big Bone Lick. Photo by the author.

Creationism, Mastodons, and Natural History in Kentucky

In northern Kentucky, conflicting stories about natural history mirror the religious and scientific debates of the late eighteenth century.

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Transparent Walls: The Work of Do Ho Suh

Four graduate students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison share their reflections on the work of Do Ho Suh.

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Can Socialism Save the Planet?

Twentieth-century socialist countries get a worse environmental rap than they deserve, and some social theorists are attempting to reinvigorate Marx for the Anthropocene. Here’s where they go wrong.

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The Biosphere 2 rainforest biome and habitat. Photo by Justin Frisch, 2011.

Biosphere 2: Why an Eccentric Ecological Experiment Still Matters 25 Years Later

Four scholars and one of the original “biospherians” offer their takes on perhaps the largest private science experiment in history.

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