STARKVILLE, Miss.--Mississippi State historians continue working with university scientists and librarians, as well as national authorities, to preserve histories of the South's agriculture, science, technology, and environment.
The campus Center for the History of Agriculture, Science and the Environment in the South--CHASES, for short--is a regionally unique research organization, according to Director James C. Giesen.
Before its establishment in 2011, no education-based organization in the South was formally researching and documenting the environmental history of the region's agriculture, science and technology, the associate professor of history said.
"This is a land-grant school that values the humanities, and it is great to be at an institution that cares about history," Giesen said. "We have strong partnerships and a great lecture series, and these are attracting more students. We also have the CHASES Graduate Fellowship that allows a history student to get more experience in research.
"MSU's history department has become a national model for the way that the humanities can thrive at a land-grant school," he added.
In addition to the history department, CHASES' campus partners include the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development, Mitchell Memorial Library, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station.
The partnership has enabled the digitization of the experiment station's science and agriculture documents, said Amanda Powers, associate professor of general library studies.
"Historical agriculture and science materials still are relevant to modern-day agriculture," she said. "Much of the research completed at the beginning of the 20th century is just as relevant as today's work, but so much of it is not online."
Powers said CHASES helps benefit both the university and off-campus communities by placing the materials online. She and Giesen agreed that the center's accomplishments help strengthen MSU's well-respected humanities programs.
"At Mississippi State, we have specialty areas among history faculty; we have this unique set of resources around campus; and we have world-class research in agriculture and engineering," Giesen said. "Few places in the country can leverage the resources in science, agriculture and engineering to aid historical research the way Mississippi State can."
The center also sponsors a campus lecture series which hosts at least one nationally recognized authority each semester. Free and open to the public, the programs averaged approximately 200 audience members for each session, he said.
"We've had leading historians in all aspects of Southern agriculture, science, technology and history come to Mississippi State from all over the country," Giesen said. "Then, they go back to their university and talk about what great research we're doing here at Mississippi State."
As an example, Giesen recalled the visit by University of Georgia Spalding Distinguished Research Professor James C. Cobb, who explained how the agricultural technology in the South affects the global economy. Others have included Harvard University Civil War historian Megan Kate Nelson, Mart A. Stewart of Western Washington University and Jess Gilbert, University of Wisconsin.
Giesen praised the continuing support by university administrators for enabling the center to continue hosting internationally respected experts. Additional information about CHASES is available at http://chases.msstate.edu.
For more on MSU, visit http://msstate.edu.