The Influence of Guano on Global History to be Discussed at MBL Falmouth Forum, March 21

cushman2MBL, WOODS HOLE, MA—The fifth presentation of this season’s MBL Falmouth Forum will be held on Friday, March 21, with a talk titled “Guano and the Opening of the Pacific World: A Global Ecological History” presented by author and professor Gregory Cushman. The event will be held at 7:30 PM in the MBL’s Lillie Auditorium, 7 MBL Street, Woods Hole.

Sponsored by the MBL Associates, the Falmouth Forum series is free and open to the public This MBL Falmouth Forum series is also supported by a generous donation from the Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod.

Humble bird excrement influenced some of the most powerful currents of modern history: from the Industrial Revolution, to the growth of environmental consciousness, to world war. Above all, guano is a story of connections.The exploitation of guano, guano islands, guano birds, and the fish they consume brought some of the remotest territories and peoples of the Pacific into intimate contact with our own existence—from the science produced at the laboratories of Woods Hole, to the chicken we eat, to the isotopes in our bodies.Guano book cover

Gregory Cushman is Associate Professor of International Environmental History at the University of Kansas. He is author of Guano & the Opening of the Pacific World: A Global Ecological History (Cambridge University Press, 2013), which has been reviewed in Science and The Times Literary Supplement, and is now available in paperback.

Cushman works closely with environmental scientists in his teaching and research and has published a range of articles on Latin American history, history of science and technology, and climate history. Currently, he is working on two book-length projects, one on The Anthropocene, and a second on Cosmos and Indigenous Culture in the Colonial Andes and Pacific.

An optional buffet dinner will precede the MBL Falmouth Forum lecture at 6:00 PM in the MBL’s Swope Center, 5 North Street, Woods Hole. Tickets are $30 (meal includes salad, pasta or potatoes, two entrees, wine, dessert, tax and gratuity) and must be purchased in advance at Eight Cousins Children’s Books, Main Street, Falmouth, or at the MBL Communications Office (between 1:00 PM and 5:00 PM only), 127 Water Street, Woods Hole.

Dinner tickets are available until they sell out or until 5:00 PM on Tuesday, March 18. For more information, contact the MBL Communications Office at (508) 289-7423 or

The remaining presentations of the MBL Falmouth Forum series are below. Visit the MBL Falmouth Forum web page at for details and updated information.

April 4, 2014            Herman T. Epstein Endowed Memorial Lectureship
“The Accidental Universe”
Alan Lightman, physicist, writer, social entrepreneur, and professor of humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

April 18, 2014 (rescheduled from February 14)
“Poetry Reading”
Stephen Dunn, Pulitzer-prize winning poet
The Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) is dedicated to scientific discovery and improving the human condition through research and education in biology, biomedicine, and environmental science. Founded in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, in 1888, the MBL is a private, nonprofit institution and an affiliate of the University of Chicago.The MBL Associates are a group of individuals and businesses that support the scientific mission of the MBL through their gifts to the Annual Fund. The Associates sponsor educational and research programs for the MBL and raise funds for special projects. In addition, they operate the MBL Gift Shop, located on Water Street in Woods Hole, the profits from which support scientific fellowships.