Personal profile

Personal information

I hold the Chair for the History of Water Management and Hydraulics, financed by the Schilthuis fonds. The key words for my teaching and research interests are the following:

environmental history, ecological history, social-economic history, global history, medieval history, local history, cultural history, heritage studies

water history, water governance, wtarer management, hydraulics, dikes, dams, sluices, culverts, lakes, canals, rivers, polders, reclamations, water institutions, water authorities, water boards, water safety, clean water, water pollution, water aesthetics

animal history, fish, eels, rabbits


Ik ben hoogleraar  Waterstaatsgeschiedenis. De leerstoel wordt gefinancierd door het Schilthuisfonds. Mijn interesses qua onderwijs en onderzoek zijn te vatten onder de volgende steekwoorden:

milieugeschiedenis, ecologische geschiedenis, sociaal-economische geschiedenis, middeleeuwse geschiedenis, lokale geschiedenis, erfgoedstudies

waterstaatsgeschiedenis, bestuur, technologie, dijken, dammen, sluizen, duikers, kanalen, meren, rivieren, polders, droogmakerijen, waterschappen, rijkswaterstaat, waterveiligheid, schoon water, mooi water

dierengeschiedenis, vis, paling, aal, konijn, waranda


In my research and teaching I focus on the environmental, social-economic and political aspects of the relationships between humans and water, and humans, animals and landscape.

With my historical projects I want to promote environmental awareness.  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 founding editor of the book series Water, Cultuur en Geschiedenis (Water, Culture and History) (Verloren Press and the Society for Waterstaatsgeschiedenis) and co-founder of the Environmental Humanities Center at the Free University in Amsterdam.




Overview of Research Projects

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 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 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, 50.000 euro.

Ancillary activities

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

Ancillary activities are updated daily

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Output 1996 2017

An Amphibious Culture. Coping with floods in the Netherlands

van Dam, P. J. E. M. 2017 Local Places, Global Processes. Histories of Enviromental Change in Britian and Beyond. Coates, P., Moon, D. & Warde, P. (eds.). Oxford: Oxbow Books, p. 78-93 15 p.

Research output: ProfessionalChapter

The beautiful and the global

van Dam, P. J. E. M. 2017 Local Places, Global Processes. Histories of Environmental Change in Britian and Beyond. Coates, P., Moon, D. & Warde, P. (eds.). Oxford: Oxbow, p. 184-187 4 p.

Research output: Scientific - peer-reviewChapter

Open Access

Floods, Worms, and Cattle Plague: Nature-induced Disaster at the Closing of the Dutch Golden Age 1672-1764

Sundberg, A. D. 2016 359 p.

Research output: ScientificPhD Thesis - Research external, graduation external