Explore the Dialogue Between Nature and Humans
Investigate the Truths of Humanities and Sciences
Harmonize the Meeting of West and East
Understand Change in Past and Present
Applying the theories and methods of ecology, ecological history (also called environmental history) aims to examine the changing relations between humans and nature. It explores the mutual impact of nature on human history and human beings on nature, and investigates the evolution of human civilization in a comprehensive way.
The history program of Renmin University of China has paid attention to the significance of the interaction between humans and nature for a long time. In the mid-1980s, under the direction of Prof. Li Wenhai, it undertook path-breaking research on the history of disasters and famines of early modern and modern China. Since then, it has become a world-famous center of environmental history research with close connections to centers of environmental humanities and ecological historians all over the world. In recent years, the school of history has recruited foreign and domestically trained ecological historians, and works to define a graduate program in the field. It has further achieved progress in digitizing documents of world ecological history.
As a sign for its solid institutionalization, RUC established a new Center for Ecological History (CEH) at the school of history in May, 2012. Its research fellows are mainly history faculty with interest in ecological history, history of disasters, historical geography, environmental archaeology and related fields, but also affiliates from around the campus. The CEH is also affiliated with scholars from the School of Traditional Chinese Culture at RUC, the School of Marxism, and other domestic and foreign institutes. In the next five to ten years, it will endeavor to build an international ecological history center to promote research, education, academic communication, and archive compilation in ecological history, and to help reinforce the dissemination of ecological culture to the public. The center aims to become a multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary platform in order to improve programs in Chinese history, world history, and archaeology at RUC, to strengthen the cooperation and dialogue between historians and scholars of ecology, environmental studies, geography, demographic studies, sociology, economics, law and public health, to enhance the international reputation of RUC, to advance research on Chinese ecological history and to help push forward the development of the field of ecological history.