History for the Future

Through interviews with historians and journalists, History for the Future explores the historical roots of contemporary social issues and policies, often revealing the hidden assumptions and political choices defining the present.

By Kevin C. Brown | Environment, History
Professor Neil Maher discusses his book, "Nature’s New Deal: The Civilian Conservation Corps and the Roots of the American Environmental Movement." The study explores how the CCC helped transform the conservationist tradition in the U.S. into what we can recognize today as the modern environmental movement. In the interview, Maher explains what “planning” looked like in the 1930s and discusses what a Green New Deal might look like today. More
By Kevin C. Brown | Media, Politics
In "The Rise of the Tea Party: Political Discontent and Corporate Media in the Age of Obama," Anthony DiMaggio questions the widely-shared notion that the Tea Party constitutes a “mass movement,” and instead shows how media filters and political power have shaped the perceived size and power of the group. In the interview, DiMaggio also discusses the meaning of “propaganda,” the state of Tea Party in 2012, and the Occupy Movement. More
By Kevin C. Brown | Politics, Sports
Dave Zirin is the sports editor at The Nation magazine, and the author of a number of books, including "Bad Sports: How Owners are Ruining the Games We Love," and most recently, "The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment that Changed the World" (with John Carlos). In this interview, he discusses the public financing of stadiums, the NFL and NBA lockouts, and the Penn State scandal, among many other issues. More
By Kevin C. Brown | Environment, History
Colby College historian James R. Fleming discusses his book, "Fixing the Sky: The Checkered History of Weather and Climate Control." Fleming’s work traces the efforts of visionaries and charlatans since antiquity to manipulate weather and climate, including weather manipulation in classical mythology, 19th century attempts to make it rain, and British military undertakings to clear fog from airport runways during World War II. Fleming strongly cautions against proposals for “geoengineering” to mitigate climate change. More
By Kevin C. Brown | History, Medicine
Historian David Kinkela discusses his book, “DDT and the American Century: Global Health, Environmental Politics, and the Pesticide that Changed the World.” Increasingly used as a “miracle” agricultural pesticide and malaria deterrent, DDT fell into disfavor after the publication of Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” in 1962. More
By Kevin C. Brown | History, Labor
Historian Scott R. Nelson discusses what he calls “Occupy Chicago, 1894,” a grassroots movement of railroad workers led by Eugene V. Debs that spread from a Chicago strike to much of the country, with railroad workers and many others demanding significant changes in American labor relations. More