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.

Upcoming Events

Intensive Introductory Workshop on Palaeosciences and Environmental history
Mon, Jan 16, 2023, 12:00 amFri, Jan 27, 2023, 11:30 pm

A two-week series of intensive seminars introducing junior scholars to various key palaeoscience disciplines for members of the Princeton campus community (graduates, postdocs and visiting researchers).  The course is led by Prof Warren J Eastwood (University of Birmingham, UK) and presented by CCHRI in collaboration with the Department of…

CCHRI 2023 Colloquium
Fri, Apr 21, 2023, 12:00 amSat, Apr 22, 2023, 11:30 pm

On 21-22 April 2023, the CCHRI will be heading to Georgetown University for an interdisciplinary workshop on epidemics. The event will focus on the late antique Mediterranean, but there will be contributions that address diverse evidence for disease outbreaks from across Afro-Eurasia. Historians, archaeologists, physical anthropologists and…