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Brad Skopyk

Assistant Professor
PhD York University
Colonial Latin America, Environmental History
Office: LT 713
Phone: (607) 777-4210

My research explores the relationship between humans and the natural world in Latin America during the Spanish colonial era which coincided with the Little Ice Age, one of the most significant climatic periods of the last four thousand years. My current book project explores the social, cultural and environmental dimensions of colonial-climatic instability, examining changing land use, environmental degradation, water scarcity, social-ecological resilience, social responses, and cultural understandings of disasters and climate extremes. In this and other research, I am committed to interdisciplinary and ethnohistorical approaches, historical GIS, and collaborative research projects between the humanities and environmental sciences. I value equally diverse sources and methods, from walking, photographing and mapping landscapes, to quantifiable, statistical and geographic data, to ethnohistorical approaches using indigenous language sources.

Current Projects

Undercurrents of Conquest: Shifting Baselines, Lost Landscapes and the Rise of Social-Ecological Instability in Colonial Tlaxcala, Mexico (in preparation)


  • "Disease, Ecology, and the Environment." In The Oxford History of Mexico, 2nd ed., edited by Michael C. Meyer and William H. Beezley. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010 (co-authored with Elinor G. K. Melville).
  • "La Presa de Acolman: integridad física, vida social e inestabilidad ambiental en el Valle de Teotihuacán" in Monumentos al agua: fábrica, descripción, e imagen de obras hidráulicas en el México Virreinal, edited by John F. López and Luis J. Gordo-Paláez. Coordinación Nacional de Monumentos Históricos del INAH, México (with Diana Martínez Yrizar, UNAM).
  • "La reinversión de la riqueza del río: Una historia del uso del agua en el San Juan Teotihuacan colonial a través de caminatas, teledetección ambiental y mapas históricos," in Rosalva Loreto López (ed.) Estudios urbanos y ambientales no. 4 (forthcoming).
  • "El estudio interdisciplinario de los procesos naturales y el impacto humano en el Valle de Teotihuacán." In 5ª Mesa Redonda Teotihuacan (in press; co-authored with Emily McClung, Diana Martínez, Emilio Ibarra Morales and Carmen Cristina Adriano Morán).
  • "Desastres paralelos: abordando el enigma del sincronismo ambiental en el México Central durante la época colonial" in Emily McClung de Tapia and Bradley Skopyk (eds) En busca del paisaje perdido: transformaciones ecológicas en el centro de México a través de su historia. IIA-UNAM, Mexico City (forthcoming 2014).
  • En busca del paisaje perdido: transformaciones ecológicas en el centro de México a través de su historia [In search of the lost landscape: ecological transformations in the centre of Mexico through its history]. IIA-UNAM, Mexico City. (co-edited with Emily McClung de Tapia; forthcoming 2014)
  • "Rivers of Empire, Rivers of God: Climate, the Columbian Exchange and the Environmental Transformation of Central Mexico under Spanish Colonial Rule" (under review)

Awards and Distinctions

  • Winner of "Rachel Carson Prize for Best Dissertation in Environmental History." American Society for Environmental History, 2012.
  • Winner of CALACS Outstanding Dissertation Prize 2012. Canadian Association for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CALACS), 2012.
  • Post-Doctoral Fellow: Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas, Univ. Nacional Autónoma de México, 2011-2013. Examined colonial environmental change in the Teotihuacan Valley within larger interdisciplinary research project (archaeology, paleoethnobotany, geology, geomorphology and history). Project led by Dr. Emily McClung de Tapia, "Paisaje en transformación: del postclásico a la colonia en el Valle de Teotihuacán, México."

Undergraduate Classes 

  • HIST 382A Latin American Environ History [Global Interdependencies, Social Science, Writing (Harpur Req)

Graduate Classes 

  • HIST 545E Col Latin American Colloquium

Last Updated: 12/13/17