Philip Clements



Office: Trinity 216

Phone: (530) 898-5366


B.A. in Philosophy, California State University, Chico, 2005
M.A. in History, California State University, Chico, 2007
Ph.D. in History and Science Studies, University of California San Diego, 2015

Research & Teaching: 

An interdisciplinary scholar who studies the interface between humans and extreme environments, Dr. Clements combines archival research with ethnographic fieldwork to determine how extremity can shape land ethics and human behavior, and why our environmental imaginary of extremity has changed over time. Most of his work concerns a specific sub-culture of human civilizations: their scientists. Dr. Clements’ current book project, Science in Extremis: The 1963 American Mount Everest Expedition, follows a team of American scientists who believed that Mt. Everest offered them the chance to prove to the world that the United States had “not become soft and gutless,” if only they could master the mountain by measuring and cataloging its many extremities. Unfortunately for their projects, the harsh Himalayan hinterland pushed back against the scientists’ inquiries. Although the surviving expedition members enjoyed a triumphant return from Mt. Everest, having successfully reaffirmed the heroic agency of the American male in an age of increasing automation, the scientists’ inability to generalize their results raised enduring questions about both the transportability of scientific practices, and about the roles of nationalism and masculinism in scientific inquiries. Dr. Clements’ future projects investigate how extremity exacerbates those questions in other contexts, past and present.

When not cavorting across glaciers on research excursions, Dr. Clements can be found teaching HIST 341: The American Environment, HIST 305: Catastrophes and the Shape of Human History, and HIST 130: United States History at Chico State. He is also fortunate to mentor emerging adults and citizens as an instructor for UNIV 101: Introduction to University Life and UNIV 105I: Self, Identity, and Sustainability. Both departments offer Dr. Clements the opportunity to foster his students’ personal growth, critical thinking, and sustainable practices. Finally, he is currently undertaking pedagogical research to determine the most effective way to teach students about anthropogenic global climate change.