Environmental historian William Cronon to receive Colman Barry Award from SJU

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April 7, 2008

Saint John’s University will present the 16th Colman J. Barry Award for Distinguished Contributions to Religion and Society to William Cronon in honor of his service as one of our nation’s foremost environmental historians and thinkers.

The award will be presented in conjunction with Saint John’s Day activities Friday, April 18, in the Stephen B. Humphrey Theater on the Saint John’s campus. The event is by invitation only.

Cronon has devoted his career to understanding the history of human interactions with the natural world: how we depend on the ecosystems around us, how we modify the landscapes in which we live and work and how our ideas of nature shape our relationships with the world.

Cronon is a Vilas Research Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the university’s most distinguished chaired professorship. He is also the Frederick Jackson Turner Professor of History, Geography and Environmental Studies at UW-Madison. Prior to this, he was a member of the Yale University history department. He is the author of two award-winning books, Changes in the Land (1983) and Nature’s Metropolis (1991), and has edited two influential essay collections, Under an Open Sky and Uncommon Ground.  In addition, he is the general editor of the Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books Series for the University of Washington Press. Cronon serves on the Governing Council of The Wilderness Society and on the National Board of the Trust for Public Land.

Cronon holds a bachelor’s degree from UW-Madison; a master’s degree, master of philosophy and doctorate from Yale University; and a doctor of philosophy from Oxford University. He was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 1999 and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2006.

The Rev. Colman J. Barry was president of SJU from 1964 to 1971. He left an enormous legacy at Saint John’s, including the creation of Minnesota Public Radio, the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library and the Jay Phillips Center for Jewish-Christian Learning. The Colman J. Barry Award for Distinguished Contributions to Religion and Society is given annually to those who, like Barry, have made significant contributions to human knowledge, understanding or communication in religion and society.

(Photo credit Hilary Fey Cronon)