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Joel Tarr

Joel Tarr

Richard S. Caliguiri University Professor of History and Policy

Joel Tarr has held a joint appointment at the Heinz College since 1967. He is also a member of the Departments of History and of Engineering and Public Policy.

He served as Acting Dean of the Heinz School in 1986. He has also served as Associate Dean (1988-91) and Acting Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Science (1991-92). He taught at California State University, Long Beach (1961-65) and the University of California, Santa Barbara (visiting professor, 1966-67) before coming to Carnegie Mellon. He is a graduate of Rutgers University (B.S., 1956; M.A., 1957) and holds a Ph.D. from Northwestern University in American History. He is co-editor of the series, "History of the Urban Environment" at the University of Pittsburgh Press, and has served on the editorial boards of a number of academic journals. He has been a member of various committees of the National Research Council as well as of the Office of Technology Assessment.

Tarr was appointed a University Professor in 2004. In 1992 he was winner of the CMU Robert Doherty Prize for "Substantial and Sustained Contributions to Excellence in Education." In 2008, the Society for the History of Technology awarded him its Leonardo da Vinci Medal for “Outstanding Contributions to the History of Technology.” In 1988 his co-edited book, Technology and the Rise of the Networked City in Europe and America was awarded the Abel Wolman Prize of the Public Works Historical Society; in 1997, his book, The Search for the Ultimate Sink: Urban Pollution in Historical Perspective, was awarded a Choice Distinguished Academic Book Award; in 2005, his edited book, Devastation and Renewal: An Environmental History of Pittsburgh and Its Region, was awarded a Certificate of Commendation by the American Association for State and Local History; and, in 2007, his co-authored book, Horses in Cities: Living Machines in the 19th Century, received Honorable Mention for the Lewis Mumford Prize of the Society for American City and Regional Planning History. He has served as President of the Urban History Association (1999-2000) and of the Public Works Historical Society (1982-83). Tarr's main research interests deal with the history of the urban environment and the development of urban technological systems. He has a special interest in the application of historical knowledge to contemporary problems. He has published widely on issues of water, air and land pollution. He has also published on the evolution of different elements of the urban infrastructure including communications systems, water supply and wastewater disposal systems, energy systems, and transportation.

His articles have appeared in many collections and journals, including: Agricultural History, American Journal of Public Health, American Heritage of Invention & Technology, Business History Review, Civil Engineering (ASCE), Environmental History, Journal of Social History, Journal of Urban History, Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management (ASCE), Journal of Environmental Engineering (ASCE), Public Works Planning and Management, Public Historian, Technology and Culture, and Urban Technology. He has been the recipient of fellowships and grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Park Service, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. In 2007 Johns Hopkins University Press will publish his co-authored book, Horses and Cities: Living Machines in 19th Century Urban America. Tarr teaches courses dealing primarily with urban environmental questions and other urban issues. He also has directed a number of project courses on various topics of public policy interest.

Tarr has served on a number of Pittsburgh regional boards and committees, including COMPAC 21: The Committee to Prepare Allegheny County for the 21st. Century, 1994-1996; Action Housing; and several committees studying Pittsburgh water and wastewater problems.


Courses Taught

  • 90-765 - Cities, Technology and the Environment


Additional Information