Craig Colten

Craig Colten

'84 PhD (Geog)
Carl O. Sauer Professor of Geography
Louisiana State University

Craig is a historical geographer, author and professor at Louisiana State University. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, he had been among the experts who had predicted the potential of a disaster of that magnitude. His award-winning historical geography book, Unnatural Metropolis: Wresting New Orleans from Nature, examines the geographical and sociological conditions that foretold the loss of life and property on the Gulf Coast. He earned his doctorate from Maxwell in 1984, and a B.A. and M.A. from LSU.

After securing a Maxwell doctorate, Colten worked for a decade as an Illinois state official on hazardous waste issues and in the private sector on Superfund litigation. Now, Katrina serves as a vivid worst-case-scenario that, combined with Colten's research, informs his geography classes at Louisiana State. Since Katrina hit, Colten's book has drawn renewed international attention from both media and government officials and earned national awards. Stemming from his work in New Orleans, he has been involved in community resilience projects since 2007 and is completing a new book on water issues in the American South.

His training at Syracuse opened the door for his professional pursuits and shaped his approach to the research projects he currently pursues. Without the rigorous expectations of his mentor, Donald Meinig, Colten insists he would never have been able to serve as editor for the Geographical Review.