The Center for the History of Agriculture, Science, and the Environment of the South

About Us

Launched in October, 2011, CHASES strives to be the intellectual and institutional home for scholars working on the history of agriculture, rural life, science, and the environment in the American South. Building on the MSU faculty's expertise in these subjects, CHASES sponsors a lecture series, graduate assistantships, seminars and more. The center is hard at work securing an endowment that will allow it to expand its programs by initiating pre- and postdoctoral fellowships among other things. If you have any questions about CHASES or wish to make a donation, please contact the center's director, Mark Hersey, at

Who We Are

The core faculty of CHASES is:

  • Mark Hersey, CHASES director, History Department
  • Stephen Brain, History
  • Alison Greene, History
  • James C. Giesen, History
  • Alix Hui, History
  • Alan Marcus, History
  • Amanda Powers, Mitchell Memorial Library

CHASES associate faculty are:

  • Andy Lang, History
  • Matthew Lavine, History
  • Anne Marshall, History
  • Judith Ridner, History
  • Jason Ward, History

What CHASES Does:

CHASES Lecture Series

Each semester the center brings in a nationally‑renowned scholar for a public talk about her or his latest research. In addition to their lecture, speakers will meet with student and community groups. These events are designed to bring together Mississippi State students, faculty, and often, local farmers, researchers, and extension workers in conversations about the relationship between humans and science, the environment, and agriculture. This interaction will ideally turn one‑time encounters between students and scholars into ongoing relationships and conversations.


Every two years, CHASES will convene a seminar to discuss pre‑circulated papers centered on a preselected theme. Our editorial board will devise the themes—things like southern foodways, farm technology, gender in the countryside, etc.—and will court proposals from scholars across rank, including graduate students, in order to cast the widest net and get the best cutting edge research. We will also ask that experts on the topic, in addition to the Center’s faculty and fellows, join us for the seminar to discuss the papers, thereby guaranteeing the best immediate feedback. The center will compile the revised seminar papers as an e‑book, which will be released onto the CHASES website for download.

Pre‑doctoral and post‑doctoral Fellows

At the core of the CHASES mission is the promotion of creative new scholarship in the astonishingly neglected fields of southern agricultural, science, and environmental history. In order to foster and promote new scholarship, CHASES will devote a significant portion of its resources to pre‑ and post‑doc research fellowships. Fellows will have time, space, and resources to conduct their research. The fellows will also take advantage of unparalleled opportunities to network with scholars in their field by helping to host the visitors for the lecture series and seminar.

Graduate Assistantship

CHASES will provide funding to one graduate student in the MSU History Department who will work both as a teaching assistant and in the day‑to day operations of the center.

Digital Humanities Program

In part, the intent of CHASES is to explore new tools and ways of communicating historical research through digital means. Because scholars in the fields of environmental history and the history of science are taking advantage of documents and materials not long associated with humanities research, librarians are often not aware of the kinds of documents that these scholars are in search of. In establishing CHASES as the gravitational center for research in the history of agriculture, science and environment in the South, it is our goal to make primary source documents and scholarship available in a central location on the CHASES website.

Plowing with a Mule Oil Spill Dr. Carver Studying Plant Disease Field Measurements