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Rachel Carson Center

"How We Changed the Planet“

München, 11/20/2019

Having traced the sociocultural roots of environmental history, hosted 330 scholars, 2500 workshops and conferences, and drawn over a million users to its website, the RCC celebrates its first decade on November 21 with talks on “How We Changed the Planet”.

"Fridays for Future" in Madrid. Source: Andreas Jünger

With her groundbreaking book “Silent Spring”, the American biologist Rachel Carson triggered the formation of the modern-day environmental movement. In that book, published in 1962, she highlighted the devastating impact of pesticides, and in particular DDT, on plant life, animals and people. Ten years later, the US banned DDT.

LMU’s Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society (RCC) was founded in the summer of 2009. “One might say that the RCC emerged from a void,” says Professor Christof Mauch, its Founding Director. “In 2009, we had no postgraduates, no students and no research projects in environmental history in Munich, and we didn’t award degrees.” Meanwhile, the RCC has established itself as a world leader in the environmental humanities and social sciences. The Center is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its inception with a program of lectures given by eminent speakers, including the British geologist Jan Zalasiewicz (Convenor of the Anthropocene Working Group set up by the International Commission on Stratigraphy), and the American environmental historian Julia Adeney Thomas.

“Welcome to the Anthropocene”
The RCC is led by Professor Christof Mauch, who has been granted a leave of absence from his post as Chair of American Cultural History at LMU for the duration of project. His Co-Director is Professor Helmuth Trischler, who also heads the Research Division of the German Museum (Deutsches Museum) in Munich and was responsible for the conception and realization of the RCC’s exhibition “Welcome to the Anthropocene”, which attracted more than 300,000 visitors.

In the course of its first 10 years existence, the Center has welcomed some 330 postdocs and faculty from 57 countries as RCC Fellows, and its digital portal has attracted more than a million users. Over the same period, the RCC has organized more than 2500 workshops, conferences, panel discussions and colloquia in Munich and around the world. And over the same period, RCC Fellows have published several hundred books, many of which have won awards.

“In 2009 we could not have imagined that the Carson Center would be such a success,” Mauch declares. “And as we celebrate our first decade, we cannot but be amazed at what has been achieved. We certainly didn’t have a secret formula when we started. But the emphasis on internationality, a staunch commitment to interdisciplinary collaboration, the undeniable relevance of environmental studies and the dedication shown by all our colleagues and staff all played an important part in the growth of the Center.”

The RCC celebrates its 10th anniversary with a set of talks on the topic “How We Changed the Planet: Strata and Stories in the Anthropocene“. The event, which is being held in cooperation with the “cx centre for interdisciplinary studies”, takes place on Thursday, November 21st, at 7 PM in the Aula of the Academy of Fine Arts (Akademie für Bildende Künste). Those wishing to attend are kindly asked to register in advance.