The History of Energy and Environment: Academic Research vs. Investigative Journalism

Programs, Lectures & Talks
Thursday, March 16, 2023
6:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m. EDT (UTC -4)
Science History Institute
315 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
United States

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Science History Institute

Climate change is a global issue that requires new technologies, new economic policies, and new production and consumption practices. But it also requires a better understanding of the past and how decades of detrimental decisions and resulting emissions have shaped our current environmental crisis.

This panel discussion explores the work of academic historians, whose authoritative research on climate is now published in such outlets as The Guardian and the New York Times, and investigative journalists, who have produced award-winning stories on the troubled history of climate science, government policy, and the energy industry.

Moderated by Maastricht University history professor and author Cyrus Mody, National Public Radio’s Neela Banerjee and Yale University’s Paul Sabin will discuss the similarities, differences, and potential conflicts between journalistic and academic accounts of the past. What can they learn from each other about sources, narratives, audiences, and research ethics? And how can they better inform and engage their publics?

This event is cosponsored by the Science History Institute and the Dutch Research Council (NWO) project “Managing Scarcity and Sustainability: The Oil Industry, Environmentalism, and Alternative Energy in the Age of Scarcity.” Learn more at managingscarcity.com.

Registration is strongly recommended for this free, public event.

About the Panelists

Neela Banerjee is deputy senior supervising climate editor at National Public Radio. She has covered energy, the environment, and other topics for the Los Angeles TimesNew York Times, and the Wall Street Journal. In 2015 she led a team at Inside Climate News in researching and publishing an investigation of Exxon’s climate research in the 1970s and 1980s. That work has won multiple awards and inspired multiple lawsuits against Exxon, Shell, and other companies for hiding their knowledge of climate change from shareholders and the public.

Paul Sabin is the Randolph W. Townsend, Jr. Professor of History and Professor of American Studies at Yale University. He is the author of three books on the history of the politics of energy and environment, most recently Public Citizens: The Attack on Big Government and the Remaking of American Liberalism (W.W. Norton, 2021). Sabin is also the faculty director of the Yale Environmental Humanities program and coordinates the Yale Environmental History working group.

Cyrus Mody is a professor of the history of science, technology, and innovation at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. He is the principal investigator for the Dutch Research Council project “Managing Scarcity and Sustainability” and co-principal investigator for the European Research Council Synergy project “NanoBubbles.” Mody’s most recent book is The Squares: US Physical and Engineering Scientists in the Long 1970s (MIT Press, 2022).