The workshop seeks to explore changes in the depiction, understanding, and measurement of energy in the early modern and modern periods. How did people think about energy in relation to natural forces and economic processes? What were the competing ideas about the nature of energy and its relation to work? Why do we use the units we do today when quantifying energy and why were alternative units discarded? In considering these questions, the workshop also aims to examine how new ideas about society and political economy have, in turn, influenced the history of energy production and consumption as well as larger social and environmental processes. This workshop is part of an ongoing series of events on the global and comparative history of energy, with the support of the Harvard University Center for the Environment.


Workshop contact: Philipp Lehmann (

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