Environmental history not only transcends traditional national histories by opening up new ways and perspectives for overcoming the methodological nationalism that still characterizes current historical narratives, despite the efforts to transnationalize and globalize historical research. Environmental history also critically reflects the cultural and spatial turn in history and the humanities by asking how new cultural approaches can enrich our understanding of the interaction between nature and culture, ecology and culture, technology and culture, and also economy and culture. By stressing the importance of space and place as determinants of historical developments environmental history together with postcolonial studies contributes to a conceptual shift in historical research toward recognizing the relevance of factors external to humankind - like habitat, land, and climate - for explaining the develoment of cultural diversity, among other things.
Research in environmental history at Trier University reflects these developments. It specifically focuses on the interrelationship between ecology, space/place, colonial experiences, knowledge transfer and material culture.