Institute of the Environment and Sustainability
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo, Michigan


Ph.D. 2000, University of Wisconsin-Madison (Forest and Wildlife Ecology)
Co-advisors: Raymond Guries (Forestry) and William Cronon (History)

M.S. 1994, University of Wisconsin-Madison (Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies).  Advisor: James Delehanty (Geography)

B.S. 1986, Miami University



I am an environmental humanist: My work integrates history, geography, ecology, and the visual arts. I study and teach about the ways in which humans have shaped and been shaped by the natural world. I collaborate with colleagues from the sciences to the fine arts to analyze our changing connections to particular landscapes. I also work with local communities, so that my research might provide a useable history in their quest for sustainable places. My earliest research was in West Africa.  Later I spent many years in the spectacular Kickapoo Valley of western Wisconsin's Driftless Area. Today I am part of a community of scholars, policy-makers, writers, artists, and activists focused on the enormous but vulnerable Great Lakes-St. Lawrence system. In Kalamazoo, I was a long-time board member of Tillers International, whose mission promotes sustainable rural development. Whenever possible, I am outside photographing the natural world, vernacular landscapes, and any of my family, friends, colleagues, and students willing to place themselves within the frame.    

Select Publications

Border Flows: A Century of U.S.-Canada Water Relations, an anthology featuring the latest research on water history and ecology along the border (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2016).

A Thousand Pieces of Paradise: Landscape and Property in the Kickapoo Valley  (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2005; 2nd edition, 2012)

“Re-centering North American Environmental History,”  with James Feldman, Environmental History 12:3 (2007)

“Walking Contested Land: Doing Environmental History in West Africa and the U.S.,”  Environmental History 10:3 (2005), pp. 510-531 


Current Projects

The Accidental Reef: A Great Lakes Composite, a collection of creative nonfiction and lyric essays on the Great Lakes.  

"Water, Oil, and Fish: The Chicago River as a Technological Matrix of Place," with Daniel Macfarlane, for a forthcoming  edited volume about Chicago (University of Pittsburgh Press).