Two New Junior Research Groups at Heidelberg Center for the Environment

Press Release No. 53/2013
25 March 2013
Interdisciplinary research in “environment and health” and “environment and society”

Two new Junior Research Groups at the Heidelberg Center for the Environment (HCE) are delving into the issues of environment and health as well as environment and society. Both groups, which are funded through October 2017 as part of the Institutional Strategy of Heidelberg University, unite environmental research from multiple disciplines. Geographer Dr. Juliane Dame and her team are analysing the dynamics of coupled social-ecological systems with a specific focus on health and the environment. The Junior Research Group led by historian Dr. Dominik Collet is examining the co-development and enmeshment of society and environment on the basis of historical climate extremes.

The interdisciplinary project “Environment and Health in Arid Regions” is a cooperation within the HCE between the South Asia Institute, the Institute of Geography and the Institute of Public Health of the Medical Faculty Heidelberg. The project team is studying the challenges of water resource management and possible health risks in an urban setting. The empirical research is based on case studies in arid regions of Chile and India. The links between water scarcity and health in rapidly growing small and medium-size towns are being investigated, especially the role of governance structures.

Juliane Dame earned her degree in geography at the University of Bonn and completed her doctoral work at Heidelberg University. Study abroad and research sojourns took her to the Helsinki University of Technology in Finland, the Universidad de Santiago de Compostela in Spain, Honduras, Ladakh in India, and the Heidelberg Center for Latin America in Santiago de Chile.

The project “Environment and Society: Facing Famine in the Early Modern World” is focussed on early modern food crises. The group is interdisciplinary in scope and combines approaches of environmental history, historical climatology, social ecology and postcolonial studies. Rather than following established dichotomies of natural and political factors, the group is advancing an integrated approach, drawing on the emerging field of “vulnerability studies” as a concept bridging climate reconstruction and cultural history. The researchers want to analyse how historical societies responded to extreme climate events. One period of interest is the early 1770s, a peak of the Little Ice Age marked by simultaneous severe famines in Europe, India and Central America.

Dominik Collet studied history and communications science at the universities of Göttingen and Bamberg, the Universidad Complutense in Madrid and the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK. He conducted research at the Max Planck Institute for History and the Warburg Institute London and earned his doctorate at the University of Hamburg. He was a postdoc and research assistant at the University of Göttingen.

Dr. Nicole Vollweiler
Heidelberg Center for the Environment (HCE)
Phone: (06221) 54-6530

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