August 27, 2019 (Tuesday), at 12.15- 13.45 Stephen Brain, Mississippi State University, USA "Biospheres of Influence"

Päärakennus (Main Building) Sali 7 (Lecture Hall 7), (3007)
Fabianinkatu 33, 3. krs.

Dear Colleagues and Friends,


we kindly invite you to the next Helsinki University Environmental Humanities Forum


August 27, 2019 (Tuesday), at 12.15- 13.45 


Stephen Brain, Mississippi State University, USA


“Biospheres of Influence”


Päärakennus (Main Building) Sali 7 (Lecture Hall 7), (3007)

Fabianinkatu 33, 3. krs.


Please kindly see Abstract and short Bio of Speaker below. 


Looking forward to meeting/seeing you soon! 


Twitter @helsinkienvhum


Facebook @helsinkienvhum


Helsinki Envhum website:


With kind wishes, Viktor Pál and Mikko Saikku





The Soviet Union was the first country to design and build totally artificial environments – that is, enclosed spaces, designed to sustain life, in which all resources were recycled and none were added with the exception of solar energy. Soviet scientists and engineers were guided in their work by the theories of Vladimir Vernadsky, who pioneered the concept of the Earth as a biosphere. The spaces they made reveal a great deal about Russian and Soviet assumptions about the working of nature, especially when contrasted with the later attempts of American scientists to build their own artificial environments. This paper will discuss the origins of the Soviet project, which had its roots in the transition between Stalin and Khrushchev, and show how concepts about environmental sustainability bridged the two eras. 




Brain is an associate professor of history at Mississippi State University. He received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in 2007 under the direction of Douglas Weiner and Carolyn Merchant. His first book, Song of the Forest, was published in 2011. He has published articles in Environmental History, Russian Review, Slavic Review, and Cold War History. He is working on the environmental history of Soviet collectivization, and the Soviet effort to build artificial environments in space. Beginning in 2019, he will serve as co-editor of the journal Environmental History​.