Historians and climate scientists are increasingly collaborating with each other. These interactions are helping us to better understand our past climate at local or regional scales over seasonal to annual timescales. While we know much about how the climate has changed over the course of human history at a global or hemispheric level, the complicated dynamics at regional and sub-regional levels mean there is much still to learn and historical evidence can help by anchoring climate events in time. Conversely, we may be able to better understand history through our knowledge of the climate by bringing paleoclimatology into historical research, especially before the twentieth century.
The speakers' specific collaborative research has worked to understand multi-decadal droughts in East Africa in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. They will use the preliminary work on this project to discuss the challenges and benefits of collaborations in this space and what needs to be done to cultivate and amplify climate and history collaborations more generally across Columbia University. They will review other efforts in this space and why we think there is great potential to pursue similar interdisciplinary efforts at Columbia. This presentation will thus be used to seed an open discussion on the interest, capacity, and logistics of building a climate and history network at Columbia.
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