CHE | Center for Culture, History, and Environment @ UW - Madison


What is CHE?

The Center for Culture, History, and Environment (CHE) and at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is part of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies that draws together faculty, staff, graduate students, and others from a wide array of academic disciplines to investigate environmental and cultural change in the full sweep of human history.

CHE provides a place where a community of scholars from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds can share insights and explore the past and present relationships between humans and the environment.

To read an overview of what CHE is and what CHE associates do, please visit the What is CHE? page.




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Graduate Students


Graduate students can apply to be an associate or to join the certificate program. Learn more on the graduate student affiliation information page.

Prospective Students

Students interested in CHE-related issues should first apply to the UW-Madison department at which they would like to pursue a graduate degree. Please also check our faculty and grad student listings to find potential advisors and get an idea of what kinds of topics people involved with CHE pursue.



Faculty members can apply to become a CHE associate. You can learn more about that on the faculty affiliation information page.

Community Members


CHE Colloquium meetings and most other CHE events are open to the public. E-mail us to sign up for the CHE listserv and check the Homepage and Colloquium page to find out when CHE events are being held.

Find out more ways to get involved on the community member information page.




CHE has been made possible through the generous gift of a donor who wishes to remain anonymous.

CHE News, Events, and Highlights: Spring 2014


April 30 Colloquium: Kennedy Warne, “‘I am Te Urewera and Te Urewera is me.’ Place and Identity in the New Zealand Rainforest”

In 2013 an historic settlement was made between an indigenous Maori tribe and the New Zealand government, addressing more than a century of colonial oppression and land theft. Fundamental to the settlement was a decision to restore to the Tuhoe tribe governance of their traditional homeland—an 800-square-mile tract of rainforest known as Te Urewera. Kennedy Warne, author of Tuhoe: Portrait of a Nation, will discuss Tuhoe understanding of connectivity to land, and why it matters to them that no one “owns” Te Urewera.

Kennedy Warne was the founding editor of New Zealand Geographic magazine, established in 1988 with similar editorial aims as those of National Geographic. He now freelances for both the New Zealand and American magazines, and has written books on the world's disappearing mangrove forests (Let Them Eat Shrimp) and an indigenous New Zealand Maori tribe (Tuhoe: Portrait of a Nation). He is interested in the role of narrative in shaping public sentiment in areas of environmental ethics and social justice.

Wednesday, April 30 - Noon - Bradley Memorial 202/204


Photos from the 2014 Director’s Potluck

The 2014 Director’s Potluck was held at Gregg Mitman's home in Avoca, WI. Check out some of the photos from this fantastic event.


CHE Grads hold first writing workshop

In November, the CHE grads held a writing workshop at the UW Arboretum. Over twenty grads turned out on a wet day to spend four hours together in a supportive environment to get some writing done. Michelle Niemann brought her Writing Center expertise and served as a moderator and coach.


Place-Based Workshop 2013 Storymap: Urban Agriculture

Participants in last spring’s Place-Based Workshop on "Agriculture in a Changing Urban Space" submitted photos and reflections about the experience. You can see them on our interactive storymap.


Fall 2013-Spring 2014 CHE Colloquium dates and topics

The biweekly CHE Colloquium is full of fascinating speakers in 2013-2014. One of the primary goals of the colloquium is to create a genuine intellectual community in CHE. We hope interested faculty members and graduate students will make a serious commitment to participate in the Colloquium as regularly as possible.

Be sure to check out the full schedule here, and protect the dates as best as you can. We look forward to seeing you there!


Check out the CHE Reading Lists

CHE's graduate associates have put together an exciting resource for those interested in studying the environmental past and present.

Using prelim lists from the departments and programs that CHE grads call home, this collection serves as a useful introduction to CHE's interdisciplinary approach to environmental issues.

Be sure to bookmark this page and pass it on.