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Environmental Studies

Environmental Education

Texas native returns to his roots to teach environmental studies at Southwestern

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    Joshua Long is joining the Southwestern faculty this fall as the university's first full-time faculty member dedicated to Environmental Studies. Long spent the past two years teaching in Switzerland.

July 19, 2011

Southwestern’s growing Environmental Studies Program now has its first full-time faculty member.

Joshua Long was hired to fill the position after a nationwide search. He brings with him a specialty in environmental politics as well as a thorough knowledge of the central Texas area. Long is from the Austin area, but just moved back from Switzerland, where he was an assistant professor of social sciences at Franklin College Switzerland for two years. He will teach U.S. Environmental Policy, Food & Sustainable Agriculture, and Introduction to Environmental Studies at Southwestern this fall.

“One particularly exciting thing about having our first fully dedicated Environmental Studies faculty person is that this will allow us to stabilize and develop the program in a number of ways,” said Michael Bray, a philosophy professor who serves as co-chair of the interdisciplinary Environmental Studies Program.

Long said Southwestern had been on his job search radar screen for quite some time. “It seems that Southwestern promotes active student development, lifelong learning and collaboration among faculty and students,” he said. “That kind of work environment is really appealing to me.”

Long’s passion for the environment began at a young age. He grew up on a small ranch outside of Bastrop and earned a bachelor’s degree in resource and environmental studies from Texas State University. He attended Northern Arizona University for his master’s  degree and earned a Ph.D. in human geography from the University of Kansas.

Much of Long’s writing and research is related to Austin, such as his 2010 book Weird City, which was published by The University of Texas Press. A primary focus of his research is on local environmental issues and changes, economic structures and political policies. He said his next book will focus on various facets of the Texas environmental movement, and will be based on interviews with environmental activists throughout the state.

“This is important work that can help students understand the dynamics of environmental politics,” Bray said. “The fact that much of Professor Long’s research focuses on people and groups in Central Texas only increases the possibilities for students to engage with the issues he’s working through.”

Bray said the Environmental Studies Program has attracted more students in recent years. Eight students graduated with the major this past year and there are 21 students currently majoring in environmental studies.

Long said he is looking forward to bringing his passion for this topic to Southwestern.

He made the move to Georgetown in July and is acclimating to the community well.

“Georgetown is great,” he said. “I like living in a small town, especially one that is next to a big city. For the past several years, I’ve lived in smaller towns that are just outside of major cities. It is the best of both worlds. I like the idea of living close enough to bike to work and still close enough to drive to Austin and catch a show at Continental Club.”

Long said his most recent experience teaching in Switzerland will benefit students at Southwestern.  

“It allowed me to gain an alternative perspective on environmental politics and also gave me the opportunity to teach an incredibly diverse student body,” he said. “I look forward to using those experiences both in and outside of the classroom.”

−Kristen McLaughlin