Bart Elmore is professor of environmental history and core faculty member of the Sustainability Institute at the Ohio State University.

He is also the award-winning author of Citizen Coke: The Making of Coca-Cola Capitalism (W. W. Norton, 2015) and Seed Money: Monsanto’s Past and Our Food Future (W. W. Norton, 2021). He currently edits the Histories of Capitalism and the Environment book series at West Virginia University Press.

The convergence of Bart’s interest in and passion for the natural world, history, and the American South is a winding one. It started north of Atlanta, where he was born and raised exploring mountains and rivers by foot and kayak. After college, he made a pit stop in Savannah, Georgia, where he taught history in a public high school, an experience that pushed him to go off to grad school at the University of Virginia. There he took an environmental history course that primed him for his professional calling.  In 2012, he accepted the Ciriacy-Wantrup Postdoctoral Fellowship in Natural Resource Economics and Political Economy at the University of California, Berkeley. He then served three years as Assistant Professor in the Department of History at the University of Alabama beginning and helped start the department’s environmental history program before joining the OSU faculty in 2016.

At Ohio State, Bart became a core member of the Sustainability Institute and has focused his research on finding lessons from the past that can help create a more eco-conscious economy in the future. But first and foremost, Bart thinks of himself as a teacher, and in 2018 he was honored to receive the Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award, Ohio State University's highest teaching accolade.

Bart's first book, Citizen Coke, uncovered the untold environmental history of Coca-Cola, a firm founded in his hometown that became a universally recognized symbol of American capitalism around the world. In this book, Bart unveiled Coca-Cola’s playbook of outsourcing the majority of the costs associated with making and distributing the raw materials that go into Coke’s beverages. Citizen Coke won the Council of Graduate Schools Gustave O. Arlt Award and the Axiom Business Book Award for best business commentary. In part because of his work on Coca-Cola, the New America Foundation, a Washington, DC-based think tank, named him a Carnegie Fellow in 2017.

Seed Money is a deeply researched and eye-opening exposé, detailing how Monsanto came to have outsized influence over our food system. It won the 2020 J. Anthony Lukas Work-In Progress award from the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard and the Columbia Journalism School and the 2022 IACP Food Issues and Matters Award. It was also a finalist for both the American Society for Environmental History's George Perkins Marsh Prize and the 2022 Hagley Prize in Business History sponsored by the Business History Conference and the Hagley Museum and Library. In 2022, Bart was awarded the Dan David Award, the largest history prize in the world described by the Washington Post as a new "MacArthur-style 'genius grant.'"

In 2023, Bart published his third book, Country Capitalism: How Corporations from the American South Remade Our Economy and the Planet (Ferris and Ferris, 2023), which came out with the University of North Carolina Press's new trade imprint, Ferris and Ferris. The book traces the ecological history of five southern firms--Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, Walmart, FedEx, and Bank of America--and shows how these firms helped create our have-it-now, fly-by-night, buy-on-credit economy.

Bart received his B.A. in History from Dartmouth College and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. He currently resides in Columbus, Ohio, with his wife, Joya, and their two sons, River and Blue. For fun, he loves whitewater kayaking, mountain biking, backpacking, basketball, and mixing digital beats.

What I'm up to

I teach at The Ohio State University and am currently finishing my second book, Seed Money

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