Laura A. Watt

Title: Professor, Affiliated Faculty in Cultural Resources Management, and Department Chair
Office: Rachel Carson 24
Phone: 707.664.2722
Fax: 707.664.4202

Education and Training:

  • Ph.D. Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, University of California Berkeley, 2001
  • M.E.M Natural Resources Economics and Policy, Duke University, 1992
  • B.A. Biology (ecology emphasis), University of California Berkeley, 1988

Research Interests:

My long-term research agenda is to explore the history of protected landscapes to bolster their long-term sustainability in terms of both natural and cultural systems.  In contrast to most land policy research, I use landscape as a tool for understanding the complex interactions between people and their environments, tracking historical changes in protected areas as indicators of shifting social dynamics and structures.  A firm grounding in property theory contributes to my interest in the interplay between public and private ownership in protecting rural landscapes.  Much of my research work has been done at Point Reyes National Seashore, examining the impacts of National Park Service management on the local ranching landscape.  Prior to coming to SSU, I worked as an environmental consultant in San Francisco for four years with EDAW, Inc., specializing in writing resource management plans for the Bureau of Land Management, as well as historic landscape analyses for a variety of government agencies. Outside of school I am an avid photographer and sailor.

Courses Taught:

  • ENSP 307 – Environmental History
  • ENSP 394 – Shared Places, Contested Pasts: Historical Memory and Historic Preservation
  • ENSP 401 – Environmental Policy
  • ENSP 405 – Environmental Research and Writing
  • ENSP 416 – Environmental Planning
  • ENSP 421 – Landscape History of the American West
  • ENSP 425 – Restoration and Society
  • ENSP 497 – Senior Seminar in Conservation and Restoration
  • SSCI 299 – Sophomore Year Experience: How To Think Like a Social Scientist

Selected Publications:

Laura Alice Watt. The Paradox of Preservation: Wilderness and Working Landscapes at Point Reyes National Seashore. Published by the University of California Press, 2017.

Laura A. Watt.  “Losing Wildness for the Sake of Wilderness: The Removal of Drakes Bay Oyster Company.” Essay in The Relative Wild: Common Grounds for Conservation, John Hausdoerffer and Gavin Van Horn, eds. The Center for Humans and Nature and the University of Chicago Press, forthcoming 2017.

Laura A. Watt. “Politics of the Anthropocene: Lessons from Dipesh Chakrabarty and Three College Courses.” Essay in After Nature: Questions of Justice in Dipesh Chakrabarty’s Theses on Climate History, an edition of Transformations in Environment & Society: Perspectives from the RCC, Rachel Carson Center, Spring 2016.

Laura A. Watt.  “The Continuously Managed Wild: Tule Elk at Point Reyes National Seashore.Journal of International Wildlife Law and Policy 18(4), December 2015.

Laura A. Watt & Ellen Joslin Johnck. "The Bay Area's Solar Salt Industry: An Unintended Conservationist." California History, Volume 91, No.2: 40-57, Summer 2014

Laura A. Watt.  “Re-imagining Joshua Tree: Applying Environmental History to National Park Interpretation.Journal of the West, Volume 50, No. 3: 15-20, Summer 2011.

Laura A. Watt.  “Conflicting Goals in the San Francisco Bay.”  Essay in Restoration and History: The Search for A Useable Environmental Past, Marcus Hall, ed.  Routledge Publishers, Spring 2010.

Laura A. Watt.  “The Endangered Species Act.” Essay in Encyclopedia of American Environmental History, Kathleen Brosnan et al., eds. Facts on File, 2010.

Sally K. Fairfax, Lauren Gwin, Mary Ann King, Leigh Raymond, and Laura A. Watt.  Buying Nature: The Limits of Land Acquisition as a Conservation Strategy, 1780-2003.  The MIT Press, August 2005.

Laura A. Watt et al.  King Range National Conservation Area Proposed Resource Management Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement. Prepared by EDAW, Inc. for the Bureau of Land Management, November 2004.

Laura A. Watt, Leigh Raymond, and Meryl L. Eschen.  “On Preserving Ecological and Cultural Landscapes.”  Environmental History, Volume 9:620-647, October 2004.

Laura A. Watt.  “The Trouble With Preservation, or, Getting Back to the Wrong Term for Wilderness Protection: A Case Study at Point Reyes National Seashore.”  The Yearbook of the Association of Pacific Coast Geographers, Volume 64:55-72, 2002.