Yeshivat Frisch history department faculty member Dr. Raechel Lutz was recently named recipient of the Alfred E. Driscoll Publication Prize for best dissertation from the New Jersey Historical Society and the State of New Jersey. Her “Crude Conservation: Nature, Pollution and Technology at Standard Oil’s New Jersey Refineries, 1870-2000” was filed with Rutgers University in May of this year. Dr. Lutz accepted the prestigious award, which considered dissertations from a two-year span, on November 2.
Dr. Lutz’s dissertation focuses on Standard Oil of New Jersey. She investigates the environmental history of two of the company’s oil refineries, located in Bayonne and Linden, New Jersey, since the 1870s. Dr. Lutz asserts that we need to consider the environmental effects of oil refineries and how oil companies have created a self-image of environmental expertise. “Oil has done good for humanity, but we’ve overlooked the glaring environmental costs for way too long,” she stated.
Dr. Lutz started at Frisch this September. She teaches U.S. history and global environmental history, as well as serves as faculty adviser for the environmental club and College Bowl team. She said she aims to be the kind of history teacher that inspired her when she was growing up. “I’m really passionate about history,” she said. “I always had great history teachers; they helped me see the world as a more complex and fluid place. History can do this in a way other subjects can’t. My service to the world is doing my history work, to share my passion with students.”
For students in the environmental club, Dr. Lutz hopes to empower students to make positive changes in their communities, and to teach not only the value of making change, but also how to do so. “I want students to know that they can change things if they want to,” she said.