- Associate Professor
- Environmental History; Latin America since 1450; History of Science, Technology, and Engineering; The Pacific World; Indigenous Peoples; Global History.
By appointment (virtual)
Associate Professor of International Environmental History (Ph.D. University of Texas at Austin, 2003); Environmental history; Latin America since 1450; history of science, technology, and engineering; the Pacific World; indigenous peoples; global history.
His first book Guano and the Opening of the Pacific World: A Global Ecological History (Cambridge University Press, 2013) is one of the first studies to examine the environmental and cultural history of the modern world from the perspective of the whole Pacific Basin, with a special focus on Peru, Banaba, and Niue. The book has been featured in The Times Literary Supplement, Science, and on National Public Radio. It has also been awarded the Henry Wallace Award by the Agricultural History Society, Murdo MacLeod Book Prize of the Southern Historical Association, Turku Prize by the European Society for Environmental History (ESEH) and Rachel Carson Center, and was the inaugural winner of the Jerry Bentley Prize in World History from the American Historical Association. The Instituto de Estudios Peruanos recently published a revised translation in Spanish
Climate change and variability are central issues in his work, and he has published a number of articles on climate history and the history of climate science. The environmental engagement of Indigenous peoples in the Andean World and Pacific World is another important focus, particularly their perspectives on ecological imperialism and the Columbian exchange and their interaction with the El Niño phenomenon. In 2009, he took part in filming a TV documentary of the round-the-world voyage of the New Beagle that visited the Serengeti of the Sea off Peru and explored the region’s vulnerability to El Niño and global warming.
His current book project on Debating the Anthropocene: Biotic Exchange and Environmental Change in World History has been supported by a prestigious Andrew Carnegie Fellowship and residential fellowship at the Rachel Carson Center in Munich. It examines the history of the realization that our species is making a mark on the planet so distinct and lasting that it will be readily detectable in the earth’s layered strata millions of years into the future. It presents a lithospheric perspective on global environmental history over the long term, including the birth of modern extractivism in colonial Latin America and the Long Great Acceleration from circa 1830 to 1980. For a multimedia perspective on the role of phosphorus in the creation of this new "human epoch" of planetary history, see the Haus der Kulturen der Welt's Technosphere Magazine.
Whenever possible, he has sought to make his scholarship open access. Most of his articles and essays are available via KU Scholarworks.
Selected Recent Publications
• "Guano, Intensive Agriculture, and Environmental Change in Latin America and the Caribbean." In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History. (Oxford University Press, 2017).
•"The Environmental Contexts of Guaman Poma: Interethnic Conflict over Forest Resources and Place in Huamanga (Peru), 1540-1600." In Unlocking the Doors to the Worlds of Guaman Poma and his Nueva Corónica, ed. Rolena Adorno and Ivan Boserup. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 2015. Distributed by University of Chicago Press.
• "The Imperial Politics of Hurricane Prediction: From Calcutta and Havana to Manila and Galveston, 1839-1900." In Nation-States and the Global Environment: New Approaches to International Environmental History (Oxford University Press, 2013).
• "Humboldtian Science, Creole Meteorology, and the Discovery of Human-Caused Climate Change in Northern South America." Osiris 26 (2011): 19-44.
Cushman teaches courses on Latin America, science and technology studies (STS), and the global environment. Many of his courses involve interdisciplinary collaboration with natural and social scientists. He and his students were core participants in KU’s NSF-funded IGERT C-Change on the human dimensions of climate change. Graduate students he has supervised hold tenure-stream positions at Creighton University and the Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí. Click here to learn more about KU's distinguished PhD program in environmental history.
• Modern Latin America (HIST 121/LAA 302)
• Global Environment 1 and 2 (HIST/EVRN/GEOG 140, 142)
• Invention of the Tropics (HIST 365/EVRN 420)
• Studies in World Environmental History (graduate, HIST 806/EVRN 720)
• The Anthropocene: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Environmental Change (graduate, EVRN 700)