Environmental Historian William Cronon to Deliver Harding Lecture Sept. 15

GENESEO, N.Y. – Distinguished environmental historian William Cronon, the Frederick Jackson Turner and Vilas Research Professor of History, Geography, and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will deliver this year’s Walter Harding Lecture Sept. 15 at SUNY Geneseo.

The lecture, titled “Wilderness and the Preservation of the World: From Walden Pond to the 1964 Wilderness Act and Beyond,” begins at 7:30 p.m. in the college’s new Doty Hall Recital Hall and is free and open to the public.

The recipient of a 1985 MacArthur Fellowship, Cronon is the author or editor of numerous publications, including Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England” (Hill & Wang, 1983), Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature (W. W. Norton, 1995), Under an Open Sky: Rethinking America’s Western Past” (W. W. Norton, 1992), and Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West (W. W. Norton, 1991). Changes in the Land won the 1984 Francis Parkman Prize of the Society of American Historians. Nature’s Metropolis” won the 1992 Bancroft Prize, the George Perkins Marsh Prize of the American Society for Environmental History, and the Charles A. Weyerhaeuser Award of the Forest History Society. It was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in history.

Cronon’s area of study is American environmental history and the history of the American West. According to his website, his research “seeks to understand the history of human interactions with the natural world: how we depend on the ecosystems around us to sustain our material lives, how we modify the landscapes in which we live and work, and how our ideas of nature shape our relationships with the world around us.” He earned doctorates from both Yale and Oxford Universities.

In 2012-13, Cronon served as president of the American Historical Association. He has published essays on the practice of history and on the goals of a liberal education.

An active citizen as well as scholar, Cronon serves on the governing council of the Wilderness Society and holds leadership positions in numerous other organizations dedicated to land conservation and to the history and protection of the environment.

Geneseo launched the annual Harding lecture in 2004 in honor of the late Distinguished Professor Emeritus Walter Harding, who was the world's leading scholar on 19th-century author Henry David Thoreau and founding secretary and former president of the Thoreau Society, the oldest and largest international organization devoted to the study of any American author.

Harding's wife, the late Marjorie Brook Harding, created an endowment to make the lecture series possible and significantly enlarged the endowment in 2010, assuring that generations of Geneseo students and faculty will benefit from Walter Harding's tradition of scholarship and learning.

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