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Conference to Explore Ohio Valley's Environmental History

louisville coal

An academic conference on the environmental history of the Ohio River Valley kicks off in Louisville later this week. It’s sponsored by the Filson Historical Society and the University of Louisville, and over two days, 20 scholars will present papers that examine human-environment interactions in the region’s history.

UofL history professor Glenn Crothers, who helped organize the conference, said environmental history is currently a “hot field” among historians.

“It’s hot because oftentimes historians are deeply influenced by the larger questions that are happening in the broader society,” he said.

The conference looks at environmental topics through a historical lens, with a particular focus on the Ohio River Valley.

“So that means things like coal mining,” Crothers said. “And here in Louisville, the parks system. And we’re interested in Cincinnati and the pork industry there. We’re interested in the generation of power here in the Ohio Valley.”

There are also sessions on agriculture, environmental justice and technology.

The conference begins Thursday evening with a keynote by Uwe Lübken, a German scholar who Crothers said is one of the world's foremost experts on Ohio River flooding. It continues with sessions on Friday and Saturday. For a full schedule, click here.

Erica Peterson is WFPL's Director of News and Programming.