Dr. Gerard J. Fitzgerald’s research employs a multi-disciplinary approach informed by different subfields including environmental history, the history of technology, sensory history, the history of public health, and the history of science to investigate the evolution of modern warfare during the American Civil War, the Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, and the Cold War. His work on military-environmental history analyzes the environmental and public health consequences of industrialization and militarization, in particular the creation of biological and chemical weapons, through the historical analysis of the environmental, cultural, economic, medical, scientific, and technological forces that both define and shape American society. In addition, he is examining the evolution of military-environmental history in the context of ongoing events. While climate and environment have been important factors driving human activity and conflict since the dawn of organized warfare, the recent ongoing transformation of our planet and the acceleration of global warming because of anthropogenic factors during the Anthropocene—different from natural planetary climate evolution—poses not only a multi-dimensional national security threat, but more importantly, a threat to the future of humanity and to the Earth itself.

In addition to teaching in the Department of Engineering and Society at the University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science, he is also a Visiting Scholar at The Greenhouse Center for Environmental Humanities at the University of Stavanger in Stavanger, Norway. He also helps lead the War and Environment SIG of the American Association of Environmental History (ASEH).


Post-doc, Dibner Center for the History of Science and Technology, MIT

Ph.D. Carnegie Mellon University

MS Carnegie Mellon University

BA University of Georgia

My research and teaching focus on the relationship between war and nature, in particular the historical evolution and growth of the military-industrial-academic complex during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in the United States, the resulting impact and legacy of war and militarization on the environment, in addition to the medical and public health consequences for both humans and non-humans.

Gerard Fitzgerald

Research Interests

Military-Environmental History
Technology and Industrialization
The History of Biological and Chemical Weapons
The History of Airborne Disease and Airborne Infection/Public Health History
The Anthropocene and Climate Change

Selected Publications

“Martin Arrowsmith Travels to St. Hubert: Remembering a Public Health Past and Constructing a Future during Covid 19” in Reflections: Environmental History in the Era of COVID-19. Environmental History, Vol. 25, No. 4, (October 2020): 618-621.
Review of The Long Shadows: A Global Environmental History of the Second World War edited by Simo Laaakonen, Richard Tucker, and Timo Vuorisalo. Environmental History, Vol. 25, No. 4 (October 2020): 809-811.
“New York Harbor and the Vicious Circle of the Winter of 1917-1918.” Arcadia, (May 2020), The Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, Munich Germany.
"The Chemist’s War: Edgewood Arsenal, World War I, and the Birth of a Militarized Landscape.” Environmental Histories of the First World War, Cambridge University Press, 2018, 62-96.

Courses Taught

STS 4600 The Engineer, Ethics, and Professional Responsibility