07 January 2019

Professor Susanna Hecht Awarded the David Livingstone Centenary Medal from the American Geographical Society

Recipient of the David Livingstone Centenary Medal and Professor of International History, Susanna Hecht, pictured on far right.

Susanna Hecht, Professor of International History, was awarded the David Livingstone Centenary Medal from the American Geographical Society (AGS). The prestigious prize was bestowed on Professor Hecht during the AGS’ Annual Fall Symposium held at Columbia University in New York on 16 November 2018.

Professor Hecht is widely recognised as a preeminent authority on forest transitions and sustainable agriculture and her work represents a remarkable integration of the humanities, including the history of ideas, social and environmental history and the social sciences of development into the dynamics and sciences of tropical and planetary change. As one of the founding thinkers of the field of political ecology, she has consistently carved out new analytic terrain through highly active tropical and archival research, focusing largely on land use change in the Latin American tropics.

Professor Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou, Chair of the International History Department, said: “This is an important and fully deserved international recognition of Professor Hecht’s pioneering work. Not only has Professor Hecht opened new avenues of research in international history, in which many have followed suit, but she has also continued to unceasingly refine those insights and develop theoretical and practical linkages to other disciplines making her work essential to development studies and contemporary global affairs.” 

“Susanna’s work on the Amazon exemplifies geography’s contributions to changing tropical conditions”, said Dr. Deborah Popper, Vice-President of AGS and Chair of its Honors and Exploration Committee. “She understands how economics, culture and land use operate in a society to reflect and change the environment. On top of that, Susanna has a gift for sharing her findings with a wide audience.”

In addition to her teaching and research in the Department of International History at the Graduate Institute, Geneva, Professor Hecht is also Professor of Urban Planning in the Luskin School of Public Affairs at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Her book, The Scramble for the Amazon and the Lost Paradise of Euclides da Cunha, won the Melville Award for the best book in environmental history from the American Historical Association and the Carl O. Sauer Award from the American Association of Geographers.

The David Livingstone Centenary Medal was named after the great African traveler, David Livingstone and bestowed “for scientific achievement in the field of geography in the southern hemisphere”. The American Geographical Society – the oldest professional geographical organisation in the United States and viewed worldwide as a pioneer in geographical research and education – established the award in 1913 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of its namesake.