Event Details

WHAT: An RASBJ online talk by Dr. Yuan Chen on "Understanding China and its environment through the lens of history" moderated by Forest Yang and followed by Q&A.

WHEN: Wednesday, June 29 at 8:00 pm China Standard Time

MORE ABOUT THE EVENT: In a transformative age that scholars regard as the dawn of modern China, Kaifeng, capital of the Northern Song dynasty (960-1127), witnessed significant growth in population, consumption, and technological breakthroughs. Relying on China's expansive transportation network, this million-population metropolis massively sourced foodstuffs, lumber, coal, and many other natural resources from distant hinterlands in China and beyond. Kaifeng's tremendous material demands profoundly deepened its ecological connections with its many supplying hinterlands –– paddy fields in Jiangnan, rivers, lakes, and seas in South China that yielded aquatic species for food, mountain forests in South and Northwest China that provided construction timber, and oases and grasslands in Inner Asia where sheep, goats, and cattle grazed. This talk traces the deep roots of some of modern China's environmental issues through the lens of Kaifeng's rise and fall and the massive ecological empire centered around it.

MEMBERS ONLY: This online event is free and exclusively for members of RASBJ and RAS branches. If you know someone who wants to join the RASBJ to attend this talk, please ask them to sign up at https://rasbj.org/membership/ at least 72 hours before the event.

HOW TO JOIN THE EVENT: Please click "Register" or "I Will Attend" and follow the instructions. After successful registration you'll receive a confirmation email with a link to join the event. If you seem not to have received it, please check your spam folder. Members of partner RAS branches: Please register at least 72 hours in advance to allow time for membership verification. You will receive two emails from us, the first confirming receipt of your registration request and the second confirming your registration, with a link to join the event. Please check your spam folder to ensure you see all RASBJ emails.


  • Yuan Chen (Franklin Humanities Fellow at Duke University)

    Yuan Chen

    Franklin Humanities Fellow at Duke University


    Dr Yuan Julian Chen is the Franklin Humanities Fellow at Duke University's Global Asia Initiative and John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute. She received her PhD from the Department of History at Yale University and taught at Boston College before joining Duke. Her current book manuscript, tentatively titled "Kaifeng: What it Took to Feed, Furnish, and Fortify the World's Largest City, 960-1127," will be published by Oxford University Press. In addition, she is working on several projects, including book chapters for Bloomsbury's six-volume A Cultural History of the Environment and Wiley Blackwell's Companion to Global Environmental History. Her past work has been published in the Journal of Early Modern History, the Journal of Chinese History, the Journal of Song-Yuan Studies, and Zhongguo Wenhua. She speaks Chinese and Japanese and reads Classical Chinese and Tangut.

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  • Forest Yang (Environment (ESTH) chief at US Embassy Beijing)

    Forest Yang

    Environment (ESTH) chief at US Embassy Beijing

    Forest Yang has been Environment, Science & Technology, and Health (ESTH) chief in Beijing since August 2021. With over two decades of experience in the U.S. diplomatic service, Forest specializes in the Indo-Pacific region, having previously served in Beijing’s Economic Section from 2016-2020, Canberra, Taipei, Mumbai, Japan desk, and India desk. Though she hails from California, she traces her family history to Tang Dynasty Henan Province. According to family lore, Forest’s ancestor left Henan around 907 AD, which is the period right before Professor Chen’s research.

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