Scientific Colloquium
December 5, 2018, 3:30 p.m.
Building 3, Goett Auditorium

"Civilization and the Solar System: Cosmic Upheavals and Human History" 

Historians typically write as though humans create history purely by influencing other humans. In most history books, the non-human universe is therefore little more than a stage for human drama. Yet in a new book, Civilization and the Cosmos, environmental historian Dagomar Degroot argues that changes to environments across the solar system have long influenced cultures, altered economies, and provoked political upheaval on Earth, in ways other historians have simply overlooked. He imagines the solar system as a dynamic actor in human history, shaping and increasingly shaped by ideas and institutions in societies the world over. In this presentation, he traces the surprising and occasionally bizarre repercussions, on Earth, of the 1994 Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet impacts on Jupiter: a particularly telling example of a cosmic environmental change that affected the human story in unexpected ways.

About the Speaker:

Dagomar Degroot is an assistant professor of environmental history at Georgetown University. He is an environmental historian of climate change, outer space, and war. His recent work focuses on the resilience of different societies to pre-industrial climate change; the history of animal cultures in the Arctic, and the social impacts, on Earth, of environmental changes in outer space. His first book, The Frigid Golden Age, was recently published by Cambridge University Press. His second book, Civilization and the Cosmos, is under contract with Harvard University Press and Penguin Random House. He is the co-founder of the Climate History Network, an organization of more than 200 scholars of climate change, and, a website that receives roughly 500,000 hits per year.

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