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Personal profile

Personal information

I am a Chair Professor for Water- and Environmental History, co-financed by the VU and the Schilthuisfonds. In my research and teaching I focus on the environmental, social-economic, political and cultural aspects of the relationships between humans, animals, and water landscapes. With my historical projects I want to promote environmental awareness and thus contribute to the transition to a more sustainable world. In particular I want to draw attention to water in its two essential functions, as safety threat and as scarce resource.

I am active in the international field of environmental history, in particular in the European Society for Environmental History. I am  co-founder of the Environmental Humanities Center at the Free University in Amsterdam. I am co-editor of the international journal Environment and History and founding editor of the book series Water, Cultuur en Geschiedenis (Water, Culture, and History). My current large researchproject (2020-2025) is 'Coping with drought. An environmental history of drinking water and climate adaptation in the Netherlands'.

Ik ben hoogleraar Water- en Milieugeschiedenis. De leerstoel wordt gefinancierd door de VU en het Schilthuisfonds. In mijn onderzoek en onderwijs richt ik mij op de milieu-, sociaal-economische, politieke en culturele aspecten van de relaties tussen mensen, dieren, waterlandschappen. Met mijn historische projecten wil ik het milieubewustzijn bevorderen ter ondersteuning van de transitie naar een meer duurzame wereld. In het bijzonder wil ik aandacht vragen voor waterveiligheid en de schaarste aan drinkwater.

Mijn laatste boek:

Van Amsterdams peil naar Europees referentiepeil. De geschiedenis van het NAP tot 2018 (Hilversum 2018).



Overview of Research Projects

2020-2025 'Coping with drought. An environmental history of drinking water and climate adaptation in the Netherlands' Prof. dr. P.J.E.M. van Dam (P.I.). Financed by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (N.W.O.) Open Competition: 1 PhD student, 2 postdocs.

2015-16  ‘Impact of Circulation. The watercycle in households and enterprises in Delft, Rotterdam and Amsterdam in international perspective 1550-1950,’ dr. M. van Tielhof (P.I.), Huygens-ING, Prof. dr. P.J.E.M. van Dam, VU GW,  dr. S. Elpers, Meertens Instituut, M. Opmeer, VU (SPINlab). Financed by Huygens-ING: 1 postdoc.

2011-2016 '' In search of the poldermodel. Participation and representation in Dutch water boards in the pre-democratic era' Prof. dr. M.R. Prak (P.I.), University Utrecht, dr. M. van Tielhof, Huygens-ING, Prof. dr. P.J.E.M. van Dam, VU. Financed the by Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (N.W.O.): 1 PhD student, 3 Postdocs.

2002-2005 ‘Rijnland 750 – Dealing with Water in an Urban Landscape (900-1857),’ Prof. dr. P.J.E.M van Dam (P.I.). Financed by the Regional Waterboard of Rijnland and the Vrije Universiteit: 1 Postdoc, 1 PhD student.

2002-2008 Individual research grant awarded by the Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences of the Netherlands (K.N.A.W.) for the research project: ‘An Ecological Transformation at the Northsea Coast. Ecosystems, Trading Networks and Institutions in Holland, Zeeland and Northern  Germany, 1300-1700.

1998-2002 Postdoctoral Research Fellowship awarded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (N.W.O.) for the research project: ‘The Ecological Transformation of the Dunes in Holland. Human and Natural Agency in the Explanations of Sand Drift, 1300-1600.’

1998 Talent Fellowship awarded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (N.W.O.), 1 year.

Ancillary activities

  • Journal Environment and History | Cambridge | Bestuurder | 2010-04-01 - present

Ancillary activities are updated daily

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities

User created Keywords

  • environmental history
  • ecological history
  • animal history
  • polders
  • water heritage
  • water governance history
  • water boards history
  • water safety history
  • drinking water history
  • social resilience history
  • milieugeschiedenis
  • ecologische geschiedenis
  • dierengeschiedenis
  • aal
  • paling
  • konijn
  • waterschapsgeschiedenis
  • dijken
  • dammen
  • sluizen
  • waterveiligheidsgeschiedenis
  • waterkwaliteitsgeschiedenis
  • watererfgoed
  • duurzaamheid
  • watermanagementgeschiedenis


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