Skip to main content
Skip to main content

Connect with the College

“Engineering Eden: Do we know enough to operate ecosystems?”

Wednesday, November 8, 2017, 4:30 pm
Broad Auditorium, Pepper Center
636 West Call St., FSU Campus

The college's Anderson-Ashby Lectureship in Public Policy Journalism presents a talk by Jordan Fisher Smith, a former park and wilderness ranger turned award-winning environmental journalist.

Smith’s lecture “Engineering Eden: Do we know enough to operate ecosystems?” will focus on national parks as an amalgam of nature itself and of the physical effects of our ideas and attitudes about it. Smith questions our abilities to understand and preserve ecosystems, examining mistakes that he says were made in the development and care of our nation’s parks as they were created in a “19th century civilization with very little sophistication about working with nature.”

Smith will also discuss his research and writing process and standards of reporting in narrative nonfiction, particularly on environmental issues.

Jordan Fisher Smith spent 21 years as a park and wilderness ranger in California, Wyoming, Idaho and Alaska. He is the author of “Nature Noir,” a Wall Street Journal summer reading selection, a San Francisco Chronicle Best Books of 2005 pick and an Audubon Magazine Editor’s Choice.

His most recent book, “Engineering Eden: The True Story of a Violent Death, a Trial, and the Fight Over Controlling Nature” (Crown, 2016), tells the national parks story through the tale of a forgotten federal lawsuit over a series of fatal and near-fatal bear attacks leading up to the death of Harry Eugene Walker during the centennial of Yellowstone in 1972. The book won a 2017 California Book Award and was long-listed for the PEN/E.O. Wilson Award for Literary Science Writing. The Wall Street Journal called it “an intensely reported, rousingly readable and ambitiously envisioned book.”

Smith is a principal cast member and narrator of the film “Under Our Skin,” which was shortlisted for the 2010 Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. He also appears in a 2014 sequel “Under Our Skin 2: Emergence.”

The Anderson-Ashby lecture series was endowed in the college in 2005 by Laird B. Anderson, with the support of his wife Florence Ashby, to give students, faculty and the public access to insights on the relationships between public policy and journalism.

Lecture Date: 

November 8, 2017