Benjamin R. Cohen


Notes from the Ground was published in paperback in 2011 (to accompany the 2009 hardback). The book examines the cultural conditions that brought agriculture and science together in nineteenth-century America. MIT published my co-edited book, Technoscience and Environmental Justice: Expert Cultures in a Grassroots Movement, also in 2011.


My current research project, “The Pure and the Adulterated: Cheating on Nature in the Age of Industrialized Food,” is a study of food purity, environmental change, and cultural values of authenticity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The work-in-progress uses debates about adulteration—contaminated or corrupted food, primarily—to examine how industrial practices have challenged cultural ideas of “nature” and “natural” and how those challenges resulted in new science-based environmental regulation. Two publications offer further introductions to the project, one an academic article in Endeavour, “Analysis as Border Patrol,” the other an essay at The Morning News, “Trust Me.”




April 16, 2014

New article in Gastronomica, “Don’t Mono-crop the Movement” (Spring ‘14 issue)

April 15, 2014

Hosting Gary Nabhan for Earth Month, 7: 30 pm, Oechsle 224

April 15, 2014

Favorite poem reading day on campus. I read this one.

April 7, 2014

Screening of Renewal,

followed by film discussion,

7 pm, Oechsle 224

March 28, 2014

“Smart Humor Night” with McSweeney’s writers John Warner and Teddy Wayne, Colton Chapel, 8 pm

March 18, 2014

First two books are out (on The Commons and German Environmentalism) in History for a Sustainable Future series at MIT Press

March 16, 2014

This Morning Was a Poem: On Rebecca Solnit’s The Faraway Nearby,” at Public Books

March 16, 2014

Environmental History Slam,” at ASEH in San Francisco

[more news and reviews here]

© 2010-2014 | B.R. Cohen

Welcome. I am an assistant professor in the Engineering Studies and Environmental Studies Programs at Lafayette College in Easton, PA. (From 2005-2011, I was a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society [STS] at the University of Virginia.) Holding STS, history, and environmental studies together, my interests sit at the intersection of the histories of science, technology, and the environment, with particular attention to industrial agriculture from the 19th century to today. I’m also, as it were, a writer for a variety of non-academic forums. [more here]

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"The world is full of light and life, and the true crime is not to be interested in it." A.S. Byatt