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


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

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

B.S., Miami University


I am an environmental humanist whose work integrates history, geography, ecology, and the visual arts. My writing and teaching explore how 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 and waterscapes. These include land and water tenure, conditions of injustice and justice, different knowledges in place, and especially our troubled relationships with a more than human world. Increasingly, I've moved toward literary hybrids of academic, creative nonfiction, and nature writing in order to more fully express the moral and spiritual dimensions of places and peoples or the lived experiences of nonhuman beings. I also collaborate with local communities, so they can ensure my work will be of some service in their quests for sustainable and just places. My earliest research was in West Africa. Later I spent many years in the spectacular Kickapoo Valley of southwestern Wisconsin's Driftless Area. Today I'm part of a passionate community of scholars, policy-makers, writers, artists, and activists focused on our enormous but vulnerable Laurentian Great Lakes. In Kalamazoo, I was privileged to be a long-time board member of Tillers International, whose mission promotes sustainable, locally-directed rural development. Whenever possible, I'm outside photographing the natural world, vernacular landscapes, and family, friends, colleagues, or students willing to place themselves within the frame.    

Current Projects

Dreamscapes: Metamorphic Gifts from Three Great Lakes Landforms. Writing, collaborative, and publiic-faciing projects organized around critically important landforms in the Great Lakes: alvar "pavement" grasslands on Drummond and Manitoulin Islands in Lake Huron; the St. Clair River delta forming the U.S.-Canada border; and Great Lakes coastal sand dunes.

" 'Stewardship' and 'Ecology': Revised Etymologies for Restorative Justice and Eco-cultural Kinship": Two essays for an edited volume entitled A Book of Common Places: Keywords for a More Than Human World (editors Karl H. Jacoby and Susan Johnson). 

Representative Publications

The Accidental Reef and Other Ecological Odysseys in the Great Lakes (E. Lansing: 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: 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).