The University of Calgary welcomes Jeff Manuel and Chad Montrie, two Fulbright Canada Research Chairs in Energy Transitions and Deindustrialization. Based in the Department of History they are affiliated with the Calgary Institute for the Humanities (CIH). During the winter term they will work on their individual projects while participating in various meetings, conferences and workshops together with DéPOT members at the CIH and organized by the Energy In Society working group.

Jeff Manuel, who is a professor of history at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and author of Taconite Dreams: The Struggle to Sustain Mining on Minnesota’s Iron Range, 1915-2000, will use public history to explore the past’s lessons for the transition away from fossil fuels. During his time at the University of Calgary, he plans to complete a manuscript, tentatively titled The Perennial Alternative: The History of Biofuels in the US and Brazil and Lessons for a Renewable Future (co-authored with Tom Rogers). This book argues that the past century of transnational biofuels suggests likely benefits and costs of shifting transportation away from oil. In addition, he will be using History Harvest and community archiving methods in Calgary to spur much-needed discussion of gender in Alberta’s energy industry, an especially pressing issue as Alberta’s oil and gas sector faces fundamental challenges due to the necessity of decarbonization.

Chad Montrie is a professor in the History Department at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and has published five books, including The Myth of Silent Spring: Rethinking the Origins of American Environmentalism and To Save the Land and People: A History of Opposition to Surface Coal Mining in Appalachia.  During his time as a Fulbright scholar, Chad is doing archival research for projects that explore the role Canadian workers and organized labour played in making an environmental movement.  One of the projects is focused on Alberta and the other is anchored in Ontario but more national in scope.  Together, they trace decades-long efforts by working people and their unions to promote environmental awareness and write environmental protection into contract agreements and provincial and federal legislation while also protecting themselves from collateral economic change.  The larger aim is to provide greater insight into the complicated historical roots of present-day conversations in Canada about the “jobs v. environment” dilemma and “just transition” policy.

Both Fulbright scholars will give talks at the Department of History Colloquium and participate in weekly meetings of the CIH working group Energy In Society (EIS). In March, they will attend a weekend workshop “Resilience in the Environmental/Energy Humanities” which EIS is organizing in Banff together with the Environmental Humanities research group at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS), Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Germany. One month later Jeff and Chad will present their work at the Western Humanities Alliance annual conference which is co-organized by the CIH and the Kule Institute for the Advanced Studies at the University of Alberta and devoted to the topic of Energy Security, Energy Sovereignty and Energy Justice. Together with UCalgary DéPOT scholars Anna Bettini and Petra Dolata, they will be part of the next DéPOT Zoom roundtable on Energy Transitions and Deindustrialization (15 March).