Essays

Long form essays and reflections from members of the CHE community.

The view of prairie grasses out the door of a darkened bunker at the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. Photo by Sean Thoel, 2017.

From TNT to Tallgrass: Prairie Restoration at a Munitions Plant Turned National Grassland

It was the world’s largest munitions plant. Now it’s a rich grassland teeming with wildflowers, hikers, and even a bison herd. Illinois’s Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie offers an environmental success story for our time.

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A haenyeo, floating in the water, holds up her catch. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Bittersweet Catch: Korea’s Diving Women and the Pitfalls of Cultural Preservation

While attending a school set up to train the next generation of haenyeo divers, one woman grapples with the historical and ongoing complexities of maintaining the traditional practice.

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Knowing Prairies: An Essay in Comic Form

What can the world’s first restored prairie tell us about living with the land? The University of Wisconsin–Madison Arboretum inspires one artist to reflect on ecological restoration and what we call nature.

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Aldo Leopold (right) with Art Hawkins and Alice Harper Stokes in Madison, Wisconsin. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1946.

The Land Ethic Revisited: Individualism vs. Morality

How can a community implement Aldo Leopold’s notion of the land ethic? Kenya’s Njuri Ncheke councils offer an example, balancing individual and group agency.

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Why We Don’t Like Wild Women

In American popular culture, from the colonial era to the present, women who venture out into wild places cannot escape the strictures of gender.

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Remembering Lost Landscapes in Cambodia

Nearly forty years after the Pol Pot time, Cambodia’s landscape testifies to a tumultuous past and hints at an uncertain environmental future.

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Crying Dugongs and Ocean Encounters in Southeast Asia

Stories of the dugong, a cousin of the manatee, offer important insight into human-nature encounters in the waters of Southeast Asia.

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The camp at Standing Rock. Photo by Larry Nesper, November 2016.

Loaves and Fishes at Standing Rock

A senior scholar of North American indigenous history visits the Oceti Sakowin camp and finds cause for hope. Up to a point.

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The Surveyor’s Stone: Unearthing Hidden Markers of the American Landscape

Buried in the nineteenth century, stone markers continue to serve as the official, and often elusive, demarcation points of the Public Land Survey System.

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Playing With Fire in Indonesia’s Peatlands

Indonesia’s previously swampy forests have become unpredictable, fuel-rich fire traps.

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