National and State Parks: Constructing the Wilderness/Society Boundary
According to documentary filmmaker, Ken Burns, our national parks represent "America's Best Idea"-and this can be extended to include state parks as well.National and state parks allow people to experience nature and does wonders for the heart, mind, and soul.
In this presentation, Wapner explains that America's parks are not discovered, but built. People establish park boundaries, and decide the kind of experience one can have within a park. Wapner explores this observation by discussing how the U.S. Park Service established and maintain some of our most famous parks by evicting those who were already living on the land, and managing the "natural" or wilderness experience for visitors. Today, park officials use extensive technologies to map, monitor, introduce species into, and otherwise manage wildlife and scenic vistas within parks.
This program emphasizes the historical and contemporary impetus to demarcate a line between society and wilderness.
Paul Wapner is Associate Professor of International Politics in the School of International Service at American University. He is the author of Environmental Activism and World Civic Politics as well as numerous articles and conference papers. He holds a Ph.D. and an M.A. in Politics from Princeton University.