The Institute for Environmental History was founded in 1992 by Professor T. C. Smout (CBE, Historiographer Royal in Scotland).
The Institute for Environmental History undertakes research and teaching in the history of science, medicine, technology, and the environment. The BBC History Magazine observed that the Institute ‘seized the initiative in advancing the cause of environmental history in the UK’. Located within a large and vibrant School of History, the Institute enjoys the support of an academic department that has received top marks in national Research Assessment Exercises (RAEs) and in Teaching Quality Assessment (TQA). On its own, and in past collaboration with a group of researchers at the University of Stirling, the Institute has raised in excess of £2.5 million from various funding bodies (principally the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council (SHEFC), the Arts and Humanities Research Board/Council (AHRB/C), and Historic Scotland) since its inception. The St Andrews/Stirling group helped to establish its central position in the discipline of Environmental History within Europe by hosting the first international conference of the European Society for Environmental History (2001) at the University of St Andrews and through past editorial control of the journal Environment and History. In addition, the Institute is home to Tom Dawson and a group of archaeologists, who have established a preeminent, award-winning position in Scottish coastal archaeology, through their outreach and survey work. Their vital work is carried out under the auspices of the Scottish Coastal Archaeological and the Problem of Erosion (SCAPE) Trust, and often in the form of Shorewatch projects.