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The First “Green New Deal”

This talk focuses on the New Deal’s ambitious program to tackle the social, economic, and environmental crises of the 1930s by creating regional planning agencies that aimed to restructure society and its relationship to the land. In particular, the talk will focus on one of the first, and most important, experiments in regional planning: the Mississippi Valley Committee (1933-35) which developed a blueprint to transform the Midwest. We will explore the ideas behind this movement, its connections to progressivism (with the latter’s embrace of scientific expertise and management), and the key reforms it put forward to address poverty, tenancy, economic decline, drought, flooding, and the transition to clean energy. At a broader level, the talk and conversation (to follow) offer an opportunity to think about how these forgotten experiments of the 1930s might inform present-day debates about a “Green New Deal” as well as how we think about the legacy of Grinnell College, whose alumni played such an outsized role in shaping many facets of the original New Deal.

Faculty Member: Michael Guenther, Associate Professor in Education Studies, History, American Studies, and Digital Studies. He is also the chair of the history and science, medicine, and society departments.
Discussion Date: Thursday, March 28, 2 p.m. CT

Meet Michael Guenther

Michael Guenther

Mike Guenther began teaching at Grinnell College in 2007, having received his B.A. from the University of Virginia, and his M.A. & Ph.D. from Northwestern University. A historian of science, technology and the environment, he is currently finishing a book project (tentatively entitled, Science and Civic Culture: the Politics of Knowledge in the Age of Improvement) that explores the political role that scientific networks and institutions played in the eighteenth-century British Empire in the run-up to the American Revolution. In addition to teaching courses on the history of science, British history, and American environmental history, he has helped direct two interdisciplinary programs at Grinnell: 1.) Technology Studies and 2.) Science, Medicine & Society. He has also taught several courses at Newton Correctional Facility as part of Grinnell’s Liberal Arts in Prison Program (LAPP).

Education and Degrees

B.A., University of Virginia M.A. & Ph.D, Northwestern University

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Thursday March 28
2:00 PM - 3:00 PM
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