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Department of History

Agricultural and Environmental History

Agricultural and Environmental History is one of the academic emphases of the Department of History at Kansas State University. Environmental history is the study of people in their ecological contexts through time. Agricultural history is more than the study of harvests; it is the history of human beings’ constant struggle to survive. The intersection of environmental and agricultural history is a rich area of study for both undergraduate students and graduate research.

Why Kansas State? KSU’s institutional goals still revolve around the time-honored mission of the 1862 Morrill Act. The Provost’s document of November 1999, “A Vision for the Future of Kansas State University,” is a clear statement of these goals. Among the nine unprioritized “planning themes,” the Provost notes that KSU must endeavor to “Contribute to the State’s Economic Development and Environmental Health.” Additionally, the Provost specifies that:

“the land-grant tradition stresses sensitivity to the needs of the State and stewardship of the land. Kansas States has a history of providing education, research and public service programs that have had a major impact on economic development, education and cultural environments and the quality of life in Kansas. … By considering economic development, environmental health and social /cultural issues concurrently, the University can increase its contribution to a quality of life that is sustainable.”

Among American institutions of higher learning, K-State is especially well suited to the study of agricultural and environmental history. As a Land Grant school whose culture and economy have historically been shaped by animal and crop production, the history of agriculture holds a venerable place in the academic offerings of the University. Environmental History, a more recent field, has become increasingly more important to university research and curriculums worldwide.

A primary goal of the emphasis is the preparation of graduate students to be professional historians in either environmental or agricultural history or both. This goal entails extensive preparation in the growing literature surrounding these fields along with training in primary research and publication. Additionally, the faculty members in Agricultural/Environmental history are committed to a broad range of classes in these fields including training in new technological methods and grant writing.

Graduate history classes in the emphasis include North American Agricultural History, North American Environmental History, Latin American Environmental History, North American Indian History, Native Americans and the Environment, History of the U.S. West, History of Technology, History of Food, Middle Eastern agricultural/environmental history and the History of Rural Communities. In addition to the classes offered in the History Department, graduate students in this emphasis will be directed to take upper-division classes in colleges and departments across the university depending on their research areas. Areas in which history graduate students have taken outside course work have included Ecology, Landscape Architecture, Geology, Geography, Sociology, Anthropology, Agronomy, and Horticulture.

Current faculty members with interests in Agricultural and Environmental History:

  • James E. Sherow
  • Bonnie Lynn-Sherow
  • Heather McCrea
  • Michael Krysko

For more information please contact Dr. James E. Sherow 
Email : jsherow@ksu.edu