Teaching the Energy Transition

Moderated panel examining how teachers bring history to bear on ongoing and future energy transitions. Introduced Energy History Online, a free new educational website serving teachers and students of United States and global energy history.












“Thinking Historically about the Future of Energy and Climate”

Spoke at UT Austin’s Institute for Historical Studies on lessons learned from the history of energy and climate, including how our historical understanding has changed in the past decade.

“Thinking Historically about the Future of Energy and Climate”

Terrific discussion about the past and future of energy with Matt Jacobson in the “Democracy in America” Series.


New public humanities grant program

The Yale Environmental Humanities Program created a new small grants program to encourage public humanities projects by Yale faculty, students and staff that engage diverse publics with urgent cultural, ethical, and social questions related to the environment and society. For more information visit: https://environmentalhumanities.yale.edu/public-humanities/environmental-humanities-grant-program

Successful Launch of Environmental Humanities Certificate

Yale Environmental Humanities successfully launched its new graduate certificate program in the 2019-2020 academic year. More than twenty graduate students are participating in the inaugural yearlong workshop, “Topics in the Environmental Humanities,” drawing from a broad range of disciplines, including history, literature, anthropology, music, public health, environmental studies, etc. Some of the students shared their research at our fall graduate symposium.

Environmental Law and the Remaking of American Liberalism

Shared work-in-progress at the New York Writing History Seminar.

“Energy and the Humanities” thematic program

During the 2018-2019 academic year, I worked with colleagues to host a yearlong conversation on the thematic intersection of energy and the humanities. The program included roundtables and workshops featuring Yale faculty and student work, visiting speakers, two new undergraduate courses, and three conferences.

Read more about it here: https://environmentalhumanities.yale.edu/news/energy-and-humanities-report-2018-2019-programming

GRE dropped as admissions requirement in Yale History

The Yale History Department successfully voted to eliminate the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) from its application requirements in April 2019. As Director of Graduate Studies, I facilitated this conversation with the goal of further opening our graduate program to a broader range of applicants and removing the GRE’s costly burden and often inequitable results.

Yale Environmental Humanities expands with graduate certificate

Starting Fall 2019, Yale Environmental Humanities will offer a graduate certificate program to strengthen student training and support. The Graduate Certificate in the Environmental Humanities is open to doctoral students at any stage of their graduate training.
Read more about it here: https://news.yale.edu/2019/02/05/yale-environmental-humanities-expands-reach-new-graduate-certificate

For an overview of the Certificate requirements, visit: https://environmentalhumanities.yale.edu/academics/graduate-certificate-environmental-humanities

Energy and the Humanities: Interventions and Ambitions

Spoke at Yale Environmental Humanities panel, ““Energy and the Humanities: Interventions and Ambitions,” at the Whitney Humanities Center.

Teaching Energy History

Spoke on a panel, “Teaching Energy History: Culture, Labor, Politics, Technology, Environment, and Justice,” at the American Society for Environmental History Conference, Riverside, CA.

Yale Environmental Humanities launches website, calendar, course listings

The new Yale Environmental Humanities Initiative kicked off the Fall 2017 semester with a new website featuring environmental humanities events and news from across the university. A compilation of course listings gathered offerings from history, literature, American Studies, anthropology, religious studies, and other departments, as well as the professional schools.

“More than Nature: Environmental Humanities at Yale”

Yale Environmental Humanities Initiative hosted an interdisciplinary conference featuring scholarship by Yale graduate students from eleven different programs. Panels were organized about key themes: “Imagined Environments,” “Imperial Legacies,” “Agrarian Landscapes,” and “Posthumanism and the Anthropocene.”

“New Perspectives in Environmental History” Conference

Yale Environmental History hosted its sixth annual environmental conference on April 22, 2017, “New Perspectives in Environmental History.” Graduate students and faculty from northeast colleges and universities presented papers and commentary on three panels: “Transnational Commodities,” “Living Empires,” and “Nature by Design.”

“Sue the Bastards”: Public Interest Environmental Law, Then and Now

Spoke about work in progress at Yale School of the Environment Research Seminar.

U.S. Steel Corporation plant on the Monongahela River in 1973. (EPA)










“ ‘Everything has a Price’: Jimmy Carter and the Struggle for Balance in Federal Regulatory Policy”

Published “‘Everything has a Price’: Jimmy Carter and the Struggle for Balance in Federal Regulatory Policy” (Journal of Policy History, 2016). The essay examines how President Jimmy Carter and his policy advisors sought to balance regulation to protect health and the environment with regulatory reform that would improve the efficiency of government action.

“Environmental Law and the End of the New Deal Order”

Published “Environmental Law and the End of the New Deal Order” in Law and History Review. This essay on the founding of public interest environmental law firms in the late 1960s and early 1970s situates the organizations in the context of growing liberal disillusionment with government, particularly in the context of the civil rights movement and Vietnam War. Early environmental lawsuits almost exclusively targeted government agencies such as Interior, Transportation, and TVA over their infrastructure and economic development plans. I shared the essay in late September at a stimulating conference at UC Santa Barbara, “Beyond the New Deal Order.”

The Bet published in a Chinese translation

The Bet has just been released in a Chinese language translation for Taiwan and Hong Kong market.

Carbon and Its Discontents

Participated in Harvard Roundtable on the future of energy history.

The Bet: Our Gamble Over Earth’s Future

Spoke at the University of Colorado-Boulder on The Bet and how history can shape our thinking about present and future environmental challenges.

“New Perspectives in Environmental History”

Yale Environmental History hosted its fifth annual environmental conference on April 18, 2015, “New Perspectives in Environmental History.” Terrific papers and commentary from graduate students and faculty from northeast colleges and universities.

New Perspectives in Environmental History

The Bet: Our Gamble Over Earth’s Future

Public lecture at Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History on The Bet as part of the 2014-2015 John H. Ostrom Program Series “Nature’s Narrators.”

The Bet: Our Gamble Over Earth’s Future

Gave public lecture at Yale-NUS College in Singapore on The Bet.

The Bet: Our Gamble Over Earth’s Future

Gave public lecture on The Bet to Columbia Society of Fellows as part of their series on “Exhaustion.”

History and other disciplines

Presented the inaugural Betsy Wood Knapp ’64 Lecture in the Social Sciences to help celebrate Wellesley College’s new Knapp Center for Social Science. A wonderful opportunity to return to my hometown to talk about The Bet and how history can contribute to interdisciplinary conversation.

Paperback edition released

The Bet was released in paperback at the end of September.

What role for historians on energy and climate?

Spoke at Brown University on the topic, “Making a Place for Historians in the Climate and Energy Debates.” My talk explored how our understandings of history are currently shaping the policy debate, and what lessons historians might offer regarding changing energy systems.

H-Net Roundtable on The Bet

The Bet was the topic of an H-Net roundtable forum, with comments from Sarah Phillips, Patrick Allitt, Peter Shulman, and Keith Woodhouse, and edited by Christopher Jones.

Nature Conservancy Science Blog review

“The Bet” named a “Great Summer Read” on the Nature Conservancy’s Science Blog.

Abrams Sustainability Seminar at Ann Arbor

Visited Ann Arbor to speak about The Bet as part of the Abrams Sustainability Seminar, an interesting effort to encourage teaching about sustainability across the disciplines. A tornado alert made it particularly memorable!

Book Talk at Carnegie Mellon University

Enjoyed talking about The Bet at Carnegie Mellon as part of their lecture series in environmental history.

Hosted “New Perspectives in Environmental History”

Yale Environmental History hosted its fourth northeast environmental history conference on April 12, with terrific papers from ten graduate students from nine different universities. Conference program available here.

Talks at Facebook and Google

I spoke about The Bet to audiences at Google and Facebook. The Google author talk is available online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9JG02YRtOc

Review in Choice, March 2014

“Carefully researched and engaging … The Bet is remarkably evenhanded in its treatment.” Choice Review by A. R. Sanderson, University of Chicago (“Highly recommended”)

Interview on Econ Talk

Lengthy interview with host Russ Roberts on EconTalk: audio link.

Interview on Green Sense Radio Show

I discussed The Bet with host Robert Colangelo on Green Sense Radio Show: audio link.

Coverage of “The Bet” in Zeit Wissen

Journalist Robert Levine features The Bet in a recent story in German-language Zeit Wissen on the clash between optimists and pessimists about the future of the planet: “Optimisten gegnen Pessimisten”

“Earth at Stake,” Chronicle of Higher Education

Review by University of Maryland, Baltimore County geographer Erle Ellis: article link (paywall).

NPR’s Morning Edition covers “The Bet”

NPR’s Planet Money did a show on “The Bet” on Morning Edition: audio link to radio segment.

Review of The Bet in World Economic Forum Forum:Blog

This “scholarly and engaging book… beautifully sets the context of an academic dispute between two world-class thinkers.… Sabin writes lightly and with respect . . . The result is a timely and well-considered explanation of how we’ve ended up in a debate about the existence and effects of climate change – and why it divides along political lines.” —Sheridan Jobbins, World Economic Forum Forum:Blog article link
One of the “Best Business Books of 2013.”

Bill Gates calls “The Bet” one of his 7 favorite books of 2013

Article link: Bill Gates’ Top 7 Books in 2013
The Bet “provides surprising insights for anyone involved in addressing the world’s ‘wicked problems.’… I recommend The Bet to anyone wanting to understand the history of the divisive discussions we have today, especially the stalemate over climate change.”

Q&A in HuffPost, December 11, 2013

Discussed “The Bet” with The Nature Conservancy CEO Mark Tercek. article link

Review of “The Bet” in the New York Review of Books, December 5, 2013

Cass Sunstein examines the lessons of “The Bet” in the December 5 issue of the New York Review of Books. “The Bet makes a convincing case that the debate between Ehrlich and Simon illuminates central issues of its era … With their contrasting narratives of looming environmental catastrophe and techno-optimism, they define important strands of the Democratic and Republican parties and indeed of American culture.” “The Battle of Two Hedgehogs.” (paywall)

Review of “The Bet” in Financial Advisor Magazine

“My pick hit of 2013, The Bet …[is] a riveting story of the clash between two outsized and highly idiosyncratic personalities … a lucid, readable gem.” —Nick Murray, Financial Advisor magazine
One of five “Books of the Year 2013.”