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Society for the History of Natural History


CfP now closed: Pioneer Naturalists: Champions of Conservation and Environmental Engagement, Cambridge, June 25-26 2020

CfP now closed: Pioneer Naturalists: Champions of Conservation and Environmental Engagement, Cambridge, June 25-26 2020

June 25, 2020 09:00am - June 26, 2020 05:00pm

This two day international meeting is held in association with the Museum Of Zoology, University of Cambridge, and will explore the history and role of naturalists (and others) as pioneers in biological, geological and landscape conservation, protection, environmental advocacy and engagement in its broadest sense. The meeting will be held in at the Museum of Zoology.

Tours of the Museum of Zoology and other collections and institutions will take place on the afternoon of Friday 26th June. Directions to the Museum of Zoology, University of Cambridge. Download map.

Environmental awareness is not a new phenomenon. With its roots in the 17th and 18th centuries, the term ‘conservation’ came into use in the 19th century alongside the passage of some of the first conservation legislation, establishment of nature conservation societies and what later became known as ‘nature reserves’.

Many naturalists made the transition from collectors to protectors, expressing concerns about the destructive influence and long-term impact of human activities on the natural world, using their knowledge and awareness to become early advocates for nature conservation, the preservation and protection of species, habitats and landscapes, advocating the need for greater environmental protection both on their own patch and farther afield. In doing so, they laid the foundations for our modern conservation, environmental movements and protections in the centuries ahead.

Please note: Cambridge can get very busy at this time of year. It is therefore advisable to book or reserve your accommodation as soon as possible if you are likely to attend. lists a good range of hotels, B&B’s and other types of accommodation on their website as a first port of call.

Image: Cambridge Museum of Zoology. Photo: Julieta Sarmiento Photography.



 We welcome papers that explore, but are not restricted to the following topics:

  • Pioneers in environmental awareness and engagement
  • Biological recording, environmental monitoring, its uses and impacts
  • Naturalists’ as observers of long-term environmental change
  • Collecting versus conservation
  • Biodiversity loss and extinction
  • The establishment of wildlife protection legislation, nature reserves and wildlife conservation programmes
  • The rise of conservation movements and campaigns
  • Colonialism, industrialisation and its impact on nature conservation
  • The value and role of Indigenous and local knowledge in conserving nature
  • Landscapes, the sublime, and concepts of nature
  • Place-making and its role in environmental protection
  • Naturalists, the media, and the promotion of the conservation ethic
  • The naturalist and new technologies – advancing nature conservation
  • Undersea worlds – the emergence of marine conservation

Short abstracts and brief biographies (maximum 200 words) for 20 minute papers should be sent to the SHNH Meetings Secretary, Jo Hatton ( by 14th February 2020.

Successful papers will be selected to cover a range of topics and on the basis of their appropriateness and relevance to the theme of the meeting. Poster submissions are also welcome at this stage.

 Costs: Registration for members attending the meeting is likely to be around £50pp.

Information about bursaries for those with insufficient means to present at the meeting and registration will be available soon.