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 Manufactured 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 in The Appendix, “The Appearance of Being Earnest.”

March 28, 2015
“The Veggie Van” exhibit at Just Food? conference, Harvard Law School

May 28, 2015
“How to Police Your Food” at Drexel University

March 20, 2015
Essay on The Lost History of the New Madrid Earthquakes, H-Environment Roundtable Review

March 19-21, 2015
ASEH (various sessions) in Washington 

December 16, 2014
“Best, Worst, or Only: Hanukah Film Edition,” at McSweeney’s

December 10, 2014
Final podcasts hosted here at SoundCloud for FYS 18: Ten Ways to Know Nature

December 8, 2014
Final capstone project reports hosted here for EGRS 451: Engineering and Society

November 25, 2014
Digital Humanities Projects at Lafayette with updates on

November 10, 2014
“Should the FDA regulate ‘natural’?” in the NYT

[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