View German language version here

The Environment & Society Portal is a gateway to open-access resources about human participation in, and understandings of, the environment. It makes environmental humanities research accessible to academic communities and the interested public worldwide, reaching more than two million users. In addition to its peer-reviewed born digital publications (Arcadia and Virtual Exhibitions) and the Rachel Carson Center’s journal RCC Perspectives, the Portal curates scholarly and popular materials in its Multimedia Library. Users can explore this content via traditional searching and browsing, or by experimenting with the Portal’s three discovery tools (map, timeline, and keyword explorer) to find spatially, temporally, and thematically related results. The Portal is the open-access digital publication platform and archive of the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society (RCC), a nonprofit joint initiative of the LMU (University of Munich) and the Deutsches Museum. As such, it reflects the research themes of the RCC and its fellows, who are international experts in related fields. Fellows are involved in contributing to the Portal and curating its content.

What kinds of content can I find on the Environment & Society Portal?

For those looking to browse a digital trove of scholarly and popular environmental materials, the Multimedia Library is the place to start. Curated by RCC fellows and associates, its content ranges from early modern broadsheet prints to the Anthropocene Milestones comic strips; from Nature’s Past podcasts to environmental film profiles. Users can find retrodigitized and indexed radical environmental journals like Earth First! as well as full-text searchable peer-reviewed journals such as Environment and History, Global Environment, Climate of the Past, Environmental Values, and Environmental Humanities. Each object is tagged and linked to connect it to related resources within the Portal and beyond. All content on the Environment & Society Portal is openly accessible.

The Portal’s most popular features are its peer-reviewed Virtual Exhibitions, which curate digital objects within interpretive contexts. Inspired by research projects of our fellows and collections of our partner institutions, they cover topics such as Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring: A Book the Changed the World; Wilderness Babel: What does Wilderness mean in your language?, Welcome to the Anthropocene: The Earth in Our Hands, The City’s Currents: A History of Water in Twentieth-Century Bogotá, and Ludwig Leichhardt: A German Explorer’s Letters Home from Australia.

Written and peer-reviewed by experts in environmental history and related fields, Arcadia articles tell stories about sites, events, persons, organizations, or species as they relate to nature and society. For example, in her article “The Constitution of the Republic of Ecuador: Pachamama has Rights,” María Valeria Berros discusses the recognition of nature’s rights in Ecuador; in his article “Corridors, Concessions, and the Extraction of Natural Resources in Liberia,” Emmanuel K. Urey describes the export of iron ores as part of an “open door policy.” Individual Arcadia articles  make up thematic collections on topics like water histories, global environmental movements, “nature states,” and national parks and conservation. A joint project of the RCC and the European Society for Environmental History, the project provides visibility for new research in the field and helps forge connections, especially among early career scholars.

Provocative and less formal pieces related to the RCC’s research themes can be found in its online journal, RCC Perspectives. These full-text issues on topics like New Environmental Histories of Latin America and the Caribbean, Energy Transitions in History; and Why Do We Value Diversity? Biocultural Diversity in a Global Context, are fully indexed on the Portal, linking them to related resources.

The Portal’s map, timeline, and keyword explorer are great ways to explore environmentally significant Places & Events. These very brief summaries, such as the Stockholm Declaration of 1972, the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster, the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, the US Public Land Surveys, and the opening of the Suez Canal, are fact-checked contributions, written mostly by early career researchers. Places & Events also includes short profiles of, and links to, other Portal content.

As a nonprofit public project, all Portal content is freely accessible to everyone, everywhere, without subscription or paywall. Of course, this openness means that in some cases we must wait for copyright restricted content to pass beyond a “moving wall” before we may include it.

How do I get started using the Environment & Society Portal?

Portal content can be full-text searched and browsed via a search tool, map, timeline, or keyword explorer. Here are three ways to get started:

  1. For a basic search, simply type your query (in one or two words) into the search field in the upper-right corner. This will yield a list of results, and give you the opportunity to refine your search.
  2. To browse by place, time, or keyword, click on one of the three round “portholes” (map, timeline, or keyword explorer) on the homepage.
  3. To browse by content area (Virtual Exhibitions, Multimedia Library, Places & Events, Arcadia, and RCC Perspectives), click on one of the content blocks on the homepage or use the drop-down menu in the header.

More about us

The Environment & Society Portal is created and maintained by a small team at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society with generous engagement from its fellows, doctoral candidates, students, interns, and community. It reaches more than 10,000 unique users per month from around the world. The entire Portal is archived twice per year by the Bavarian State Library, which also catalogues its born-digital publications. Thanks to a generous grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, we are working with the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University to aggregate and publish even more online environmental content through PressForward to our affiliated blog Ant Spider Bee.

You can reach us at portal[at]carsoncenter.lmu.de. We look forward to hearing from you.