Climate Change and History Research Initiative

A comparative approach to climate, environment and society in Eurasia: towards understanding the impact of climate on complex societies

This interdisciplinary project investigates the impact of climatic changes across the last two millennia on societies in two environmentally sensitive areas:

  • The eastern Mediterranean basin (including the Balkans, Anatolia and the Near and Middle East).
  • The eastern Eurasian steppe, in particular Mongolia and the regions north of China.

The main foci of the project are (1) the differential impacts of climate and environmental change on complex societies and state formation and (2) the impact of human society and polities on the environment. 

Two keywords embody the principles upon which the project is founded: consilience and resilience. The former reflects current efforts to integrate natural scientific with social scientific research techniques, methodologies and philosophies in a common effort; the latter reflects the leitmotif of the project, which is to investigate the ways in which climate and environmental stress has impacted on social, economic, political and cultural systems and to illustrate of the outcomes of these impacts. While we problematize both concepts, the aims are thus:

  • To expand the understanding of societal transformation and environmental evolution through a detailed historical analysis of the regions in question.
  • To generate new methodologies and research questions by integrating social and natural science approaches.

Through the development of this integrated and approach, the project generates a model of historical-evolutionary change. As noted already, the keyword is socio-cultural resilience, an understanding of the mechanisms underlying which is essential for insight into contemporary environmental change and the possibilities for future planning and policy.

The CCHRI has been operating since 2014/5, and has organized six multidisciplinary colloquia and four introductory workshops in three countries, alongside numerous public lectures. These research activities have resulted in over 50 articles so far. For our next three years of projects, introductory workshops and meetings, see our "About" page.

  • October 2, 2023

    In partnership with DAI and ANAMED, the CCHRI announces a new collaboration focused on socio-ecological approaches to the history and archaeology of Anatolia.

  • September 25, 2023

    CCHRI and HMEI are delighted to announce the appointment of Dr. Katherine Snow to our 2-year Postdoctoral Research position in Environmental History and Public Policy.

  • September 24, 2023

    The 2024 "Intensive Introductory Workshop in the Palaeosciences for Pre-Modernists" will take place in Princeton from 15 to 25 January 2024. 

  • September 23, 2023

    CCHRI team members continue to publish on historical environmental change, societal resilience & transformation as well as policy-related environmental history.

Upcoming Events

Bridging the Gap Between History and Policy
Tue, Dec 12, 2023Wed, Dec 13, 2023

A Max Planck Institute of Geoanthropology and Climate Change and History Research Initiative (Princeton University) Workshop

Intensive Introductory Workshop in the Palaeosciences for Pre-Modernists
Mon, Jan 15, 2024, 9:00 amThu, Jan 25, 2024, 5:00 pm

A series of 16 x 3-hour sessions over 8 days with a final day for reflection and discussion designed to introduce participants from the fields of history and archaeology to the palaeoecological sciences and their relevance to historical and archaeological research.

Resilience and Sustainability: past trajectories, contemporary directions, policy relevance
Mon, Jun 3, 2024Wed, Jun 5, 2024

The CCHRI 2024 Colloquium aims to address questions of scale, complexity, information-sharing and challenges of policy relevance in our fields with the aim of moving our fields forward in better mobilizing our results for actionable use.