A book of this scope, exploring topics this complex and urgent, requires the time and effort of a great number of good-willed people if it is to be done well. All the contributors who accepted our invitations to write, and many other experts in their disciplinary fields who, for various reasons, could not accept our invitations, were generously willing to talk at length with us about the project. Each played a significant role in shaping the book by helping us construct an initial list of over 180 possible terms and then identify names of people qualified to write the essays. Later, they helped us decide how to narrow our list to sixty. We thank each of them for their time, expertise, and influence on our thinking, although all decisions on the final list of keywords were ours alone.
The book was incubated in spaces and places that sharpened our thinking about the contents. Bruce Burgett and Glenn Hendler, the coeditors of the first edition of Keywords for American Cultural Studies, deserve special thanks for their mentorship and for offering us virtual space on their Keywords Wiki, where our colleagues from around the world were able to meet and reflect on the ways environmental studies disciplines (and interdisciplines) contribute to broader critical conversations surrounding environmentalism, social and environmental justice, sustainability, place, climate change, and other central topics. At actual conference venues, including meetings of the American Studies Association, the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, and the European Association for the Study of Literature, Culture, and Environment, we benefited from the observations of audience members keen to help us deepen and expand our sense of how the sciences, social sciences, and humanities might translate the terms critical to their disciplines and offer histories of these terms that would increase possibilities for finding transdisciplinary solutions to environmental challenges. We are grateful to all who contributed to these conversations. We are also deeply indebted to the talented staff at New York University Press, and especially to Eric Zinner for his active engagement with the project, from attending our conference sessions to offering greatly appreciated suggestions for potential keywords and authors.
We thank our amazingly dedicated research assistants, Carolina Alvarado at Princeton University and Kyndra P. Turner at Arizona State University. They admirably collated the final manuscript, corresponded with our contributors, and paid incredible attention to detail in compiling, checking, and rechecking bibliographical citations.
Finally, we often hear that humanists and scientists have difficulty communicating with each other, particularly concerning ways to approach ecological crises. We thank each of our contributors for stepping into these gaps and modeling an “intercommunication” among the disciplines represented in this volume. Each author worked with us to write in accessible, jargon-free ways that would make complex information accessible to a wider public. We invite our readers to take up the debates, histories, and information found in each keyword essay and enter into conversations of critical importance to the present and the future.