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Ohio Wesleyan University to Host Environmental Researcher
Professor to Discuss America’s Love of Luxuriant Lawns, Potential Ecological Impact

November 2, 2007

Paul Robbins, Ph.D.
DELAWARE, OHIO – The desire of many homeowners to have a lush, green lawn can mow down their otherwise strong convictions about protecting the environment. How did this phenomenon come to be and what does it say about U.S. culture?

Paul Robbins, Ph.D., associate professor of geography and regional development at the University of Arizona, will discuss “Intimate Urban Ecologies: How the American Lawn Makes Us Who We Are” during a free presentation at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 13 in the Benes Rooms of Ohio Wesleyan University’s Hamilton-Williams Campus Center, 40 Rowland Ave. The event is the final lecture of the university’s 2007 Sagan National Colloquium.

Robbins, a former associate professor and researcher at The Ohio State University, studies the relationships among individuals, environmental actors, and the institutions that connect them. In June, he published “Lawn People: How Grasses, Weeds and Chemicals Make Us Who We Are.” He also is the author of “Political Ecology: A Critical Introduction.”

For “Lawn People,” Robbins interviewed homeowners and used national surveys, analysis from aerial photographs, and economic data to examine people’s attitudes and actions regarding their lawns.

“ ‘Lawn People’ places the lawn in its ecological, economic, and social context,” stated Temple University Press, which published the book. “Robbins considers the attention we pay our turfgrass—the chemicals we use to grow lawns, the hazards of turf care to our urban ecology, and its potential impact on water quality and household health. He also shows how the ecology of cities creates certain kinds of citizens, deftly contrasting man’s control of the lawn with the lawn’s control of man.”

Robbins holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of Wisconsin and a doctorate in geography from Clark University in Worcester, Mass.

Ohio Wesleyan University’s Sagan National Colloquium examines an issue of national and global significance each year with a fall lecture series. The theme of this year’s 22nd annual Colloquium is “Cities and Suburbs: Life in a Metropolitan World.” Past Colloquium speakers have included President Gerald Ford, Nobel Peace Prize winner Jody Williams, and author Kurt Vonnegut. A full schedule of this year’s Colloquium events is available at snc.owu.edu.

Ohio Wesleyan University is an undergraduate liberal arts college that transforms the lives of its students through a combination of rigorous academics, mentoring relationships, and real-world experiences. Featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” the private university’s 1,850 students come from 40 states and 45 countries. Visit www.owu.edu for more information.