Etienne Benson

Departmental Website

Office Location

365 Cohen Hall

Associate Professor, History and Sociology of Science; Janice and Julian Bers Assistant Professor in the Social Sciences

2017-2018 PPEH Topic Director: How Did We Get Here?


Ph.D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
M.A. Stanford University
A.B. Harvard University

Etienne Benson is a historian of the environmental sciences, environmentalism, and human-animal relationships in the 19th and 20th centuries. His book Wired Wilderness: Technologies of Tracking and the Making of Modern Wildlife (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010) showed how the use of electronic surveillance technologies to study and manage wildlife in the United States since the 1960s challenged widespread understandings of wildness and wilderness. He has also published shorter studies of urban squirrels, national parks, environmental satellites, electric power transmission, animal history, endangered species protection, movement ecology, ecological simulation, and other subjects. He is currently pursuing two book-length projects: one tracing the history of environmental ideas and environmentalisms since the late 18th century, the other exploring the role of the built landscape in generating ideas of human-animal difference. At Penn he teaches courses on the history of technology, environmental history, and posthumanism.

Research Interests

History of the environmental sciences, History of environmentalism, Animal history, History of technology