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Grant number: FT-60224-12

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Christine Keiner
Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, NY 14623-5698)

Environmental Diplomacy, Atomic Earthmoving, and Interoceanic Ecology in the Re-Making of the Panama Canal

This project integrates approaches from the history of science and technology, diplomatic history, and environmental history to provide new perspectives on the Panama Canal. The resulting book will examine the social, political, economic, technological, and environmental aspects of Cold War-era efforts to build a new Central American sea-level canal. Although U.S. officials eventually abandoned plans to use nuclear excavation methods, the economic and military promise of a sea-level channel convinced many to disregard scientific warnings about the potential for disastrous ecological invasions by non-native species. Even though the sea-level canal never came to fruition, the current canal locks expansion has raised similar concerns. By illuminating the many complex factors related to assessing risk in proposed megaprojects, this project will link a rich historical case study with issues of contemporary importance at the intersection of the humanities, science, and engineering.

Project fields:
Interdisciplinary Studies, General

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2012 – 8/31/2012