Program History

Founded in late 1996, the Berkeley Workshop on Environmental Politics emerged from a long-standing commitment to environmental studies on the Berkeley campus and from the presence of a core group of faculty interested in questions of nature, culture, and power. From its beginnings as an occasional colloquium series, the Workshop has emerged as a key interdisciplinary and intercampus forum and training ground. Approximately once a month, some 30-50 faculty, visitors, and students come together to discuss a work in progress submitted by a scholar or scholar-activist and read in advance by all participants. Papers workshopped at these colloquia have become classic publications in fields such as political ecology, science and technology studies, sociology, geography, politics, anthropology, and cultural studies, and the unique format of these meetings brings together graduate students, faculty, and scholar-activists as colleagues, fostering dialogue across traditional institutional boundaries.

While the topical emphases of the program have changed over time, it has remained committed to scholarship that is at once conceptually rigorous and empirically grounded, encouraging innovative use of critical theory to address environmental problems. The colloquium remains the centerpiece of the Workshop, but its other activities have included fellowship programs, prospectus writing workshops, working groups, and summer internships.

Funding for the Workshop has been provided by the Ford Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the Henry Luce Foundation, the Institute of International Studies, the College of Natural Resources, and the Offices of the Dean of Social Sciences and Dean of Arts and Humanities.