Graeme Wynn receives ASEH 2024 Distinguished Scholar award

We extend our congratulations to Dr. Graeme Wynn, recipient of the 2024 Distinguished Scholar award of the American Society for Environmental History (ASEH). Dr. Wynn’s contributions to the field of environmental history are broad and numerous, with over fifty years of his research focused on the evolving landscapes and societies of Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Southern Africa. His wide-ranging research interests have long straddled disciplines, garnering him a deeply respected reputation as an “Environmental Historian”. A professor in UBC’s department of Geography for over four decades, we are keenly aware of the impact of his work, intellectual rigour and his thoughtful mentorship of the next generation of scholars.

The ASEH’s citation for Dr. Wynn’s nomination states:

“Graeme Wynn has dedicated his professional life to enriching and expanding our understanding of the environmental past. Through his own work, he has expanded our understanding of landscape transformation in environments and periods ranging from the eighteenth-century Atlantic to the prospects of the Anthropocene. Even more importantly, he has been a tireless force for the generation of new scholarship, whether in mentoring students and colleagues, professional leadership, or editorial service. His transnational scholarly perspective, wide-ranging and carefully informed interests, humane and thoughtful approach, and intellectual generosity have had a profound and lasting effect on the field”.

Dr. Wynn studied both physical and human geography during his undergraduate years. This led him to his graduate studies in human-environmental relations at the University of Toronto under the initial supervision of Dr. Cole Harris.

“The development of environmental history as a distinct field in the late 1970s nurtured my interest in this line of inquiry, and opened an inclusive, positive space of lively intellectual exchange in which I have found both continued inspiration and validation,” reflects Wynn.

The field of Environmental History has expanded rapidly over the last few decades, along with the breadth and depth of the discipline’s research.

“This field is often said to have grown from the nascent environmental movement of the 1960s, and its importance – in offering a grounded, humanistic perspective on current climate, biodiversity and environmental justice crises – is increasingly evident,” Wynn explains.

Dr. Wynn’s prolific career has left an indelible mark on Environmental History and in the hearts and minds of the many he crossed paths with. His accomplishments and contributions have been plentiful over his rich and rewarding career. Dr. Wynn is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and has received the Massey Medal from the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. He has served as Associate Dean for the Faculty of Arts at the University of British Columbia, as well as Geography Department Head and President of the American Society for Environmental History. With numerous other contributions and accolades, Dr. Wynn insists above all that a passion for people and doing good work leads to a successful and rewarding career.

ASEH President Nancy Jacobs presents the Distinguished Scholar Award to Graeme Wynn, in Denver, Colorado, April 6 2024

In a world that increasingly values hard skills over soft ones, the way forward for young scholars in the humanities can be challenging. Dr. Wynn encourages those starting out to “…hold the faith, and recognize that the kinds of work done by environmental historians (and similarly-minded geographers and others) who seek to understand the deep cultural origins of our contemporary challenges are, and will be, crucial to averting the perils that loom before us”.

Culminating his decades of scholarship, Dr. Wynn is deeply grateful to receive this award.

“Recognition by respected peers is at once gratifying and humbling. I am the fifteenth recipient of this award, initiated in 1997, and the first Canadian so honoured, which I take as a reflection and appreciation of the vibrant community of environmental historical scholarship in Canada that I have perhaps played some small part in fostering,” says Wynn.

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Graeme Wynn on his prolific achievements and his much-deserved ASEH 2024 Distinguished Scholar Award. His work will leave an enduring legacy.