In this episode, John Linstrom tells us about Nature-Study, an educational movement that began in the rural classrooms of American Progressive Era. It takes students and learners of all kinds out of the classroom, away from the textbook, and into the world, to observe and learn. It offers us a mode of attunement to the world that we might use to heal the divide between rural and urban, and kindle the kind of social change we need to get the world off fossil fuels.

Our conversation is centered around the new scholarly edition John edited of Liberty Hyde Bailey’s The Nature-Study Idea (Cornell University Press, 2023), which just came out. It’s the first book in the new The Liberty Hyde Bailey Library, a series for Cornell University Press reintroducing the ecological and critical-agrarian writings of L. H. Bailey (1858-1954). John was one of our first guests on High Theory back in 2020 – so if you want to listen back, you can check out the episode on Ecosphere. John told me when were were preparing to record that there was some debate about the dash in “Nature-Study” back in the day, but that he was on the side of the dashers, because the women teachers who led the movement favored the dash.

John is a Mellon Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in Climate and Inequality at the Climate Museum in NYC. He is also the author of a book of poems called To Leave for Our Own Country coming out with Black Lawrence Press in April 2024. He believes in poetry’s power to foster communities for change, human and more-than-human stories and visions of climate justice He received his PhD in Literature from New York University and his MFA in Creative Writing and Environment from Iowa State University. John, Kim, and Saronik spent a lot of time together as grad students at 244 Greene St. in NYC. John and Kim used to run a working group on agriculture and literature, called Farm to Text. John lives in Queens, where gleans deep joy from holding his baby daughter, singing choral music, and eating large quantities of pesto.

The image for this episode was made by Saronik Bosu, especially for his friend John, in 2023.

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