Humanities and Arts

Contact Information

Salisbury Laboratories, 234
Phone: +1-508-831-5871

Tom Robertson

Professor Robertson specializes in environmental history, international development, 20th-century America, and the Himalayas. He is particularly interested in American relations with the developing world. His first book, The Malthusian Moment, focuses on post-World War II American debates about population growth, both at home and globally. His current research examines the environmental history of U.S. development projects in Nepal during the Cold War, including malaria, land reform, population and family planning, and conservation projects. He have studied, researched, and worked in Nepal on and off since 1988. 

Environmental change provides a novel and important way to illuminate the dynamics “before, between, and beyond” nations. His research investigates two questions that emphasize the relationship between changing environments and local, national, and international politics: First, more broadly, what have been the environmental consequences of new technologies, and the social, political, and international consequences of those techno-environmental changes? And second, more specifically, how have economic development programs and ideas about environment shaped the relations between social groups and nations, especially between Western nations and the developing world, and groups within each?

Research Interests

  • Environmentalism
  • International Development
  • Population
  • Malaria
  • Aviation  


  • BA, Williams College, 1989
  • PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2005

Featured Publications

  •  “Cold War Landscapes: Toward An Environmental History of U.S. Development Programs in the 1950s and 1960s.” Cold War History, forthcoming.
  • “The Bird’s Eye View: Toward an Environmental History of Aviation,” Journal of Transport History, December, 2014.
  • The Malthusian Moment: Global Population Growth and the Birth of American Environmentalism, Rutgers University Press, 2012. (Review in Journal of American History, Review in American Historical Review)
  • "Total War and the Total Environment: Fairfield Osborn, William Vogt, and the Birth of Global Ecology," Environmental History 17:2 (April, 2012): 336-364.
  • "'This is the American Earth’: American Empire, the Cold War, and American Environmentalism," Diplomatic History 32:4 (September 2008): 561-584.


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