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I'm Charlotte Leib, a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at Yale University.


My academic work sits at the nexus of landscape history and environmental history. I research, write and teach about historical struggles for social and environmental justice; about designed landscapes and perceptions, representations, and repercussions of environmental change in the early modern and modern periods; and about adaptations and uses of coastal meadow and wetland sites, with a particular focus on multi-century landscape transformations in the Northeastern Atlantic region.


I have strong interests in the plant humanities, climate history, energy history, landscape history, urban studies, discard studies, visual and spatial history, and environmental history. Mostly, I just want the planet to be habitable for future generations.


For me, "doing" (and learning, and teaching) history sometimes functions as a form of escapism: a means of retrieving and imagining the worlds we have lost the art or wisdom of inhabiting. But it is also more than that. It is a practice of inquiry and of empathy, and it is a philosophy and ethic. It is a way of being in the present, and of acting toward the future. Living landscapes have histories that take place in layered, non-linear dimensions. Living with the outcomes and ongoing path-dependencies of these layered histories—with an ethos of reciprocity and care; and with a sense of time, place, plant, and planet that goes beyond the ticking clock and the carbon sink—is, to my mind, the riddle of our settler colonial present.

I am currently completing a dissertation about the energy histories and landscape cultures of the area we now know as the "New Jersey Meadowlands." Having been raised in Northern New Jersey, on the traditional homelands of the Lenape people and on land later divided during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries under a legal system that encouraged the trafficking and bondage of enslaved African peoples, I approach history-writing as one medium through which to recover and share complex, challenging stories about land, people, plants, animals, and the social and political struggles and spatial and cultural transformations they have engendered.

Prior to beginning doctoral studies in History, I completed Masters degrees at Harvard University and a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture at Princeton University. I also worked for various design offices, nonprofits and municipalities, including: SCAPE Landscape Architecture in New York City; Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Waitsfield, Vermont; the Urban Farming Institute of Boston; and the City of Cambridge Department of Public Works, Urban Forestry Division.

While completing my Master in Design Studies and Master in Landscape Architecture degrees at Harvard, I contributed to the research, public programming and design of several exhibitions on landscape-related topics, including ‘The Bauhaus and Harvard’ at the Harvard Art Museums (Feb. 8–Jul. 28, 2019) and ‘Hudson Rising’ at the New-York Historical Society (Mar. 1–Aug. 4, 2019). At Harvard, my 2019 MDes. Thesis received the Best Paper on Housing Prize from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies.

During the third and fourth years of my Ph.D. (Fall 2021 through Fall 2023), I worked part-time as a Designer at Reed Hilderbrand. I continue to consult with the firm as an independent contractor.


In past semesters I served on the Yale Environmental Humanities Steering Committee and helped to coordinate the Yale Environmental History working group.


These engagements and others are listed on my CV.

Thank you for stopping by, I appreciate your interest in my work.


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