Sam White earned his M.A. in Middle East Studies and Modern History from the University of St. Andrews (Scotland) in 2002 and his Ph.D. in history from Columbia University in 2008. He was asst. prof. of environmental history at Oberlin College for five years before joining the history department at OSU in 2013.
Prof. White has taught in many areas of environmental history including both global and American surveys as well as "big history" and topical courses on food, animals, and climate. His research focuses on past climate changes and extreme weather, combining scientific data and historical sources to better reconstruct these episodes and understand their influence on human history.
His first book, The Climate of Rebellion in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire (Cambridge University Press, 2011), explores the far-reaching effects of severe cold and drought in the Middle East during the "Little Ice Age" of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It won the Middle East Studies Association Albert Hourani award, the Turkish Studies Association Fuat Köprülü award, and the British-Kuwaiti Friendship Society prize for the best book in Middle East and Turkish studies. He has also published various chapters and articles on world history, and climate, disease, and animals in history, including "From Globalized Pigs to Capitalist Pigs: A Study in Animals Cultures and Evolutionary History," Environmental History 16 (2011), which won the American Society for Environmental History Leopold-Hildy Prize and the Agricultural History Association Wayne D. Rasmussen Award.
His current research, recently supported by fellowships at the John Carter Brown and Huntington libraries, examines the role of climate in the early exploration and settlement of North America. It compares English, Spanish, and French efforts to grapple with a new and unfamiliar climate and with Little Ice Age cold and drought, leading up to the contemporaneous colonies of Jamestown, Santa Fe, and Quebec. Prof. White is also the co-founder and website administrator of climatehistorynetwork.com and vice-president of a new International Society for Historical Climatology and Climate History.