New Book from History Faculty Uses Oral History to Reveal the Interactions Between Humans & Their Environment

Stephen Sloan, Associate Professor of History and the Director of Baylor’s Institute for Oral History, set to release new environmental oral history book coming out October 2022.

October 13, 2022
Stephen Sloan

Photo of Dr. Stephen Sloan, Associate Professor of History and Director of the Institute for Oral History.


book cover
Cover of "Oral History and the Environment: Global Perspectives on Climate, Connection, and Catastrophe" Edited by Stephen M. Sloan and 
Mark Cave

Oral History and the Environment: Global Perspectives on Climate, Connection, and Catastrophe, published by Oxford University Press, is edited by Dr. Sloan and Mark Cave. This book demonstrates the value of using oral history in environmental research and provides a global perspective on environmental history.

The Oral History Association defines oral history this way: “Oral history refers to both the interview process and the products that result from a recorded spoken interview (whether audio, video, or other formats). In order to gather and preserve meaningful information about the past, oral historians might record interviews focused on narrators’ life histories or topical interviews in which narrators are selected for their knowledge of a particular historical subject or event. . . . The value of oral history lies largely in the way it helps to place people’s experiences within a larger social and historical context. The interview becomes a record useful for documenting past events, individual or collective experiences, and understandings of the ways that history is constructed.” (OHA)

In Dr. Sloan’s book, oral historians’ interviews with activists, farmers, foresters, herders, survivors of catastrophes, rangers, tribal trustees, and water system managers from around the world provides special insight into the ways in which humans and the environment interact and adapt to each other. Historian J. R. McNeill notes,

“This book brings to life perspectives and voices that rarely appear in the written record and reveal an intimately human side of environmental history as experienced by everyday people. Environmental history and oral history make good partners and this book is a shining example of how to realize their combined potential.”

Dr. Sloan teaches courses on U.S. environmental history, the Vietnam War, and the Cold War at the undergraduate level and courses on oral history at the graduate level.