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“Robbing the Soil” exhibition opens Sept. 12

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Approaching Dust Storm in Middle West, 1935. Courtesy of the Kansas Collection, Kenneth Spencer Research Library.

"Approaching Dust Storm in Middle West, 1935."
Courtesy of the Kansas Collection,
Kenneth Spencer Research Library.

University of Kansas Libraries will host an exhibition examining environmental history, the influence of humanity in nature and changing perceptions of the natural world. "Robbing the Soil" opens Sept. 12 with a reception held in the Watson Library Gallery, featuring research and presentations by KU scholars, as well as collection materials from the KU Libraries.

The exhibition highlights interdisciplinary research by KU faculty alongside the work of Dust Bowl scholar and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History Donald Worster. In addition to the exhibition on display, the opening reception will include a presentation by Hall Distinguished Professor of History Edmund Russell titled, "A Tale of Two Dust Bowls: Kansas and Environmental History."

The opening of "Robbing the Soil" will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Watson Library Gallery with a cocktail reception, followed by the presentation at 6:30 p.m. This event is free and open to the public; those who plan to attend should RSVP to Rachel Karwas at 785-864-8961 or

The KU research community abounds with expertise in the subject of man's impact on the environment. Those scholars contributing their work to "Robbing the Soil" include:

  • Christopher Brown, director of Environmental Studies Program, Assoc. Professor, Environmental Studies and Geography
  • Byron Caminero-Santangelo, Assoc. Professor, English
  • Gregory Cushman, Assoc. Professor, History
  • Sara Gregg, Asst. Professor, History
  • John Head, Distinguished Professor, Law
  • Wes Jackson, President of The Land Institute
  • Joane Nagel, Distinguished Professor, Sociology
  • Paul Outka, Assoc. Professor, English
  • Uma Outka, Assoc. Professor, Law
  • Edmund Russell, Distinguished Professor, History

Also featured in "Robbing the Soil" is the work of photographer Terry Evans and Kansas landscape painter Paul Hotvedt. In addition, the University Press of Kansas will display its own titles on those topics examined in the exhibit.

"The goal of the KU Libraries Exhibits Program is to promote the creative scholarship of our campus community, to highlight the strength of the libraries' collections and to work in partnership with cultural venues internal and external to KU," says Sarah Goodwin Thiel, KU Libraries exhibition program coordinator and head of the libraries' new Center for Community/Affiliate Initiatives and Engagement.

"Robbing the Soil" will be displayed in Watson Library through the end of January—you also can browse the online exhibit—and was created in conjunction with this year’s KU Common Book and the selection for Read Across Lawrence 2013, "The Worst Hard Time." The KU Common Book program promotes academic engagement through discussions of a common reading experience among faculty, staff and students; Read Across Lawrence extends this aim to the entire community, in a collaboration between Lawrence Public Library, KU Libraries and the Friends of the Lawrence Public Library.

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