Benjamin W. Goossen

Benjamin W. Goossen

Benjamin W. Goossen

Assistant Professor

Environmental History, Global and International History, Modern European History, History of Science and Technology

Benjamin W. Goossen is Assistant Professor of Environmental History and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University. He teaches in the Department of History and Art History and in the Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution. Goossen's research and teaching encompass European and international history, science and technology studies, and the history of the environment. He holds a BA from Swarthmore College and a PhD from Harvard University. 

His current book project, Earthbound: A History of the 1957-1958 International Geophysical Year, examines the significant expansion and contested nature of Earth science during the retreat of European empires and the reformulation of international order after World War II. To tell this story, Goossen focuses on the  International Geophysical Year (IGY) of 1957-1958, an ambitious global program to understand our planet as a unified environment. The IGY involved tens of thousands of scientists and citizen volunteers from most countries. Its organizers (a team of rivals from both sides of the Iron Curtain) shared stated commitments to scientific progress and economic development while in other respects falling on different parts of a vast political and ideological spectrum. This project asks how Cold War rivalries and processes of decolonization shaped and were, in turn, informed by transnational efforts to acquire comprehensive environmental data—including data related to “extreme” regions like the upper atmosphere, the deep ocean, the poles, and outer space.

Goossen's first book, Chosen Nation: Mennonites and Germany in a Global Era, appeared with Princeton University Press in 2017. This book tells the story of a predominantly rural and historically pacifist religious community that developed complex relationships with German nationalism across three continents in concert with rising transnational sensibilities. Chosen Nation contributes to scholarship that emphasizes the malleability, historical contingency, and socially situated nature of nationalist practices and ways of thinking about national belonging. By adopting global and transnational perspectives, this book examines how insights developed by historians of nationalism travel and refract when viewed through the actions and experiences of one small, densely networked religious group whose members lived and moved across Europe and the world.

Support for Goossen's scholarship has come from institutions including the American Historical Association, the Consortium for History of Science, Technology, and Medicine (CHSTM), the Fulbright Commission, the German Academic Exchange Service, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). He has previously held fellowships at Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, the University of Chicago, the European University Institute, Free University Berlin, Harvard University, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, and the University of Sydney. His work has received awards from the Council for European Studies, the Kansas Historical Foundation, and the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, among others. 

For more information, visit Goossen's personal website:


Selected Publications


Earthbound: A History of the 1957-1958 International Geophysical Year, in preparation.

Chosen Nation: Mennonites and Germany in a Global Era (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2017). Paperback 2019.

*European Studies Book Award, Shortlisted, Council for European Studies


Review Essay

“Europe’s Final Frontier: Astroculture and Planetary Power Since 1945,” Contemporary European History 32, no. 3 (2023): 475-488.


Peer-Reviewed Articles

“The Making of a Holocaust Denier: Ingrid Rimland, Mennonites, and Gender in White Supremacy, 1945-2000,” Antisemitism Studies 5, no. 2 (2021): 233-265.

“Terms of Racial Endearment: Nazi Categorization of Mennonites in Ideology and Practice, 1929-1945,” German Studies Review 44, no. 1 (2021): 27-46.

“A Benchmark for the Environment: Big Science and ‘Artificial’ Geophysics in the Global 1950s,” Journal of Global History 15, no. 1 (2020): 149-168.

“‘Like a Brilliant Thread’: Gender and Vigilante Democracy in the Kansas Coalfield, 1921-1922,” Kansas History 34, no. 3 (2011): 206-223.


Courses Taught

CONF 399: Environmental Movements 

HIST 387: History of the Climate Crisis

HIST 615 / 635: Environment and Empire