James Beattie

AProf James Beattie profile picture

Associate Professor Science in Society, Faculty of Science


Teaching in 2019


PhD, History, University of Otago (2005); BA (Hons), First Class, History, University of Otago (1999)

Research interests

My research focuses on the Asia-Pacific region and examines the nexus between environmental history, history of science, landscape history, and health history.

I am one of the leading researchers on environmental change in the British Empire and work on interdisciplinary projects with scholars in sciences and arts. From July-September I will be a Fellow at the Rachel Carson Center, Munich, Germany.

Editing: I am founding editor of the interdisciplinary, refereed journal, International Review of Environmental History; co-editor of the book series, Palgrave Studies in World Environmental History, and have also edited special issues of the top journals in my field, Studies in the History of Gardens and Designed Landscapes, and Environment and History.

Latest Book: My latest book in the science and society field is co-edited with Ts’ui-jung Liu, Environment, Modernization, and Development in East Asia: Perspectives from Environmental History (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016).

Research Funding

In 2014, Richard Bullen and I received a $434,000-funded Marsden Royal Society Grant on Selling New China to New Zealand: Rewi Alley and the Art of Museum Diplomacy

Research Areas

Environmental History

History of Science

Landscape/Garden History

Chinese Art Collecting

World History

Climate History


Asia Pacific

British Empire




Current research projects

  1. Ecological Change in the Taranaki Ringplain since the last Ice Age, with Professor Bruce Clarkson, University of Waikato
  2. ‘Gardens and Parks in Environmental History’, with Dr. Karen Jones, University of Kent, for Environment and History special issue
  3. Ecological Change and World Empires, 2500BCE to 2000CE, with Prof. Gene Anderson, University of California (Oxford University Press)
  4. China, Migration and Environmental Change in the Pacific
  5. Overseas Chinese Gardens: Identity, Belonging and Cultural Exchange
  6. Treasures of the Rewi Alley Collection, with Dr. Richard Bullen (University of Canterbury Press)
  7. China in Australasia: Cultural Diplomacy and the Collecting and Display of Chinese Art since the Cold War, with Drs. Richard Bullen (Canterbury) and Maria Galikowski (Waikato)
  8. Environmental Change in Australasia—a Documentary History (Routledge)

Postgraduate supervision

I am an experienced supervisor and welcome students to work with me on topics related to: environmental history, history of science, landscape history, health history, garden history.


Selected publications


Teaching in 2019