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.    

Representative Publications

The Accidental Reef and Other Ecological Odysseys in the Great Lakes (East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 2021).  

"Water, Oil, and Fish: The Chicago River as a Technological Matrix of Place," with Daniel Macfarlane, in City of Lake and Prairie: Chicago's Environmental History (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020), 91-107. 

Border Flows: A Century of the Canadian-American Water Relationship, co-edited with Daniel Macfarlane (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2016).

A Thousand Pieces of Paradise: Landscape and Property in the Kickapoo Valley  (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2012).

“Re-centering North American Environmental History: Pedagogy and Scholarship in the Great Lakes Region,”  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.