Department of Geography and the Environment

Research Spotlight: Dr. Karl W. Butzer

Thu, March 17, 2011
Research Spotlight: Dr. Karl W. Butzer
Professor Karl W. Butzer

Historical research based on the geosciences and archaeology offers a cross-disciplinary method to monitor long-term environmental change and to project the future effects of contemporary processes set in train by modernization and globalization. This can provide an objective assessment of land surface degradation by improvident land use, to allow a more complex understanding of current environmental problems.  Detailed case studies are ideal to examine change in the context of local, ecological and social stimuli and resilience—relationships that are to some degree unique and therefore difficult to generalize. But such studies allow a pragmatic interpretation of multiple ecological histories that are critical to:  

(1) formulate remedial strategies; (2) achieve more effective environmental planning; and (3) assure a sustainable future. 



This didactic model of Historical Collapse elucidates the many variables of stress, and some of the interactions involved. The alternate pathways identify qualities of resilience.


The environmental context of irrigation in the Fayum Oasis of Egypt is here coupled with the trace of Greco-Roman colonization and abandonment (c. 280 BCE -800 CE)

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  • Department of Geography and the Environment

    The University of Texas at Austin
    305 E. 23rd Street, A3100
    RLP 3.306
    Austin, TX 78712