College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Sara Gregg

Associate Professor
Primary office:
Wescoe Hall
Room 3620


Environmental history of North America; agricultural history.

On Leave for the Spring 2020 Semester 

Research Profile:

Sara Gregg is an associate professor of history and environmental studies at the University of Kansas.  She teaches the environmental history of North America, with a particular focus on the intersections of environmental change with politics, law, and agriculture.  Her current book project, Little Piece of Earth: Native Landscapes and the Myth of Homesteading the Great Plains, examines the several Homestead Acts and their environmental impacts between 1862 and 1986.  Using historical GIS to map the landscapes of homesteading, this work is animated by microhistories of the Great Plains grasslands and the peoples of Kansas, Oklahoma, North Dakota, and Montana.

Gregg received her PhD from Columbia University. She has published two books:  Managing the Mountains:  Land Use Planning, the New Deal, and the Creation of a Federal Landscape in Appalachia (Yale, 2010), which won the George C. Weyerhaeuser Award for the best book in forest and conservation history in 2011; and American Georgics:  Writings on Farming, Culture, and the Land (edited with Brian Donahue and Edwin Hagenstein, Yale, 2011)She is an associate fellow of the Center for Great Plains Studies and a former fellow of the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society and the National Museum of American History; currently serves on the editorial board for Agricultural History; and has served on the board of directors of the Forest History Society and the executive committee of the American Society for Environmental History


Recent Publications:

  • "Imagining Opportunity: The 1909 Englarged Homestead Act and the Promise of the Public Domain," Western Historical Quarterly 50 (Autumn 2019): 257-279,
  • “Visualizing the Enlarged Homestead Act:  Cartographic Evolutions in Early-Twentieth-Century U.S. Land Policy,” in Mapping Nature Across the Americas, James Akerman and Kathleen Brosnan, eds., University of Chicago Press (expected 2020)
  • “Beyond Stories:  Spatial Inquiries and the Practice of Environmental History,” in A Field on Fire:  Essays on the Future of Environmental History Inspired by the Work of Donald Worster, ed. Mark Hersey and Ted Steinberg, University of Alabama Press, 2019. 
  • American Georgics: Writings on Farming, Culture, and the Land (Yale, 2011), co-edited with Edwin Hagenstein and Brian Donahue.
  • “Cultivating an Agro-Environmental History” in A Companion to American Environmental History (Wiley-Blackwell, 2011).
  • Managing the Mountains: Land Use Planning, the New Deal, and the Creation of a Federal Landscape in Appalachia (Yale, 2010), winner of the 2011 George C. Weyerhaeuser Prize for the best book in forest and conservation history.

Teaching Profile:

Professor Gregg  teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in environmental and agricultural history, with both a global scope and a more specific geographical focus on the United States. She also teaches in the Environmental Studies program, where she teaches the course in Environmental Law. Please contact her with questions about graduate study at the University of Kansas, and for additional information about studying environmental or agricultural history at KU.

Recent Courses:

  • HIST 347: North American Environmental History
  • HIST 621: The U.S. West in the 20th Century
  • HIST 636: Agriculture in World History
  • HIST 696: Natural Disasters in American History
  • HIST 879: Colloquium in North American Environmental History
  • HIST 892: Colloquium in 20th Century U.S. History

PhD Students:

  • Jared Taber, "Thinking Like a Floodplain: Water, Work, and Time in the Connecticut River Valley, 1790-1870," defended May 2016.
  • Jaclyn J.S. Miller, "Cultivating Capital: Country Bankers and the Transformation of the Central Great Plains, 1870-1940," defended April 2016-departmental honors.
  • Alex Boynton, "Confronting the Environmental Crisis: Anti-Environmentalism and the Transformation of Conservative Thought in the 1970s," defended March 2015-departmental honors.
  • Joshua Nygren, "Soil, Water, and the State: The Conservation-Industrial Complex and American Agriculture since 1920," defended December 2014-departmental honors.

Calendar of Events

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