Department of Economic, Social and Environmental History

Welcome to the website of the Department of Economic, Social and Environmental History (WSU)

Humankind in interaction with the natural environment is the focus of teaching and research at this department. Research interests cover all periods of history from antiquity to the present day. Regional topics related to Switzerland are equally at home here as those with global perspectives on the environment and climate in history. The main focuses lie on the climate history of the Middle Ages and modern times, on research into natural hazards (reconstruction and perceptions), on questions of resource management and the history of nutrition, and on the history of transport and mobility.

Interdisciplinarity plays an essential role in practically all fields of activity. As such we enjoy close cooperation with:

The Department of Economic, Social and Environmental History is located in Unitobler, Länggassstrasse 49 (1st floor), 3012 Bern


Assistant Professor


Senior Scientists


PhD Students

Database Manager

Junior Assistants



Prof. emeritus

  • Climate history of the Middle Ages and modern times
  • Natural hazards in history (reconstruction and perceptions)
  • Resources and energy
  • History of nutrition, hunger research
  • History of transport and mobility
  • Visual environmental history
  • Digital Humanities

12th Biennial European Society for Environmental History Conference, Mountains and Plains: Past, present and future environmental and climatic entanglements, Bern, 22-26 August 2023


2023 ESEH Summer School: Climate in History, Aeschi bei Spiez, 17-20 August 2023


2023 ESEH Summer School: Common pool resources in the «visual turn» – collective alpine pastures, forests and waters in the first half of the 20th century, Val d'Anniviers, 16-20 August 2023


Workshop “Interdisciplinary and Mixed-Methods Approaches in Environmental History: Potentials and Challenges”, Aeschi bei Spiez, 13-15 September 2021


Gebrauch und Symbolik des Wassers in der mittelalterlichen Kultur,
16. Symposium des Mediävistenverbandes, Bern, 22-25 March 2015 


The Coldest Decade of the Millennium? The Spörer Minimum, the Climate during the 1430s, and its Economic, Social and Cultural Impact, Bern, 4-5 December 2014


Climate and beyond: Knowledge Production about Planet Earth and the Global Environment as Indicators of Social Change, Bern, 23-25 January 2013

  • Conference publication: Westermann, Andrea; Rohr, Christian (Hg.): Climate and Beyond. The Production of Knowledge about the Earth as a Signpost of Social Change (Historical Social Research 40/2, Special Issue). Köln: Zentrum für Historische Sozialforschung 2015. 
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