Robert Wilson

Associate Professor, Geography and the Environment

Robert Wilson 2021 faculty pg

Contact Information

533 Eggers Hall
(315) 443-2605

Director of Undergraduate Studies, Geography and the Environment


Ph.D., University of British Columbia, 2003


Environmental history, historical geography, environmental humanities, animals and society, climate change history and politics


GEO 103 Environment and Society

GEO 354/HST 384 American Environmental History and Geography

GEO 358 Animals and Society

GEO 423 Urban Political Ecology and Environmental History

GEO 603 Development of Geographic Thought

GEO 605 Writing Geography

GEO 752 Climate Change: Geography, History, Politics

    GEO 754 Seminar in Environmental History



    Wilson, Robert M. Seeking Refuge: Birds and Landscapes of the Pacific Flyway. Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books Series, William Cronon, ed. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2010.

    Articles and Chapters

    Wilson, Robert M. “Imagining the Green New Deal.” Environmental History, 2021.

    Wilson, Robert M. “Relinquished.” GeoHumanities 6, no. 2 (2020): 413–23.

    Wilson, Robert M. “Authoritarian Environmental Governance: Insights from the Past Century.” Annals of the American Association of Geographers 109, no. 2 (2019): 314–23. 

    Wilson, Bob. “From Noble Stag to Suburban Vermin: The Fall and Rise of White-Tailed Deer in the Northeastern United States.” In American Environment Revisited, edited by Geoffrey Buckley and Yolanda Youngs, 39-55. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2018.

    Wilson, Robert M. “Faces of the Climate Movement.” Environmental History 22, no. 1 (2017): 128–39.

    Wilson, Robert M. “Wildlife” and “Wildlife Management.” In Humans and Animals: A Geography of Coexistence, edited by Julie Urbanik and Connie L. Johnston, 351–53, 355-57. Laham, MD: ABC-Clio, 2017.

    Wilson, Robert M. “Bookshelf: The Troubled History of Environmentalism.” Seeing the Woods: A Blog by the Rachel Carson Center, September 22, 2016. 

    Wilson, Robert M. “Making Tracks: Scholar Activist?Seeing the Woods: A Blog by the Rachel Carson Center, August, 25, 2016 

    Wilson, Robert M. “Will the End of the World Be on the Final Exam? Emotions, Climate Change, and Teaching an Introductory Environmental Studies Course.” In Teaching Climate Change in the Humanities, edited by Stephanie LeMenager Stephen Siperstein, Shane Hall, 53–58. New York: Routledge, 2016.

    Wilson, Robert M. “Environmental History,”Oxford Bibliographies in “Geography,” Ed. Barney Warf. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.

    Wilson, Robert M. “Mobile Bodies: Animal Migration in North American History.”Geoforum 65 (2015): 465–72.

    Wilson, Robert M. “Animals and the American Landscape.” In North American Odyssey: Historical Geographies for the Twenty-First Century, edited by Craig E. Colten and Geoffrey L. Buckley, 195–206. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014.

    Wilson, Robert M. “Historical Geography.” Oxford Bibliographies in “Geography,” Ed. Barney Warf. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.

    Wynn, Graeme, Craig Colten, Robert M. Wilson, Martin V. Melosi, Mark Fiege, and Diana K. Davis. “Reflections on the American Environment.” Journal of Historical Geography 43 (January 2014): 152–68.

    Wilson, Robert M. “Commentary 2: The state of the humanities in geography – a reflection,” Progress in Human Geography 37, no. 2 (2013): 310-313.

    Wilson, Robert M. “Environmental Histories.” The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Cultural Geography, edited by Nula Johnson, Richard Schein, and Jamie Winders, 355–370. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013. 

    Wilson, Robert. “The Necessity of Activism,”  Solutions Journal 3, no. 4 (2012): 75-79. 

    Wilson, Robert M. "Landscapes of Promise and Betrayal: Reclamation, Homesteading, and Japanese American Incarceration,"  Annals of the Association of American Geographers 101 no. 2 (2011): 424-444.

    Wilson, Robert M. “The Ugly Duckling,”  Environmental History 16, no. 2 (2011): 439-445

    "Birds on the Home Front: Wildlife Conservation in the Western United States during World War II." In War and the Environment: Military Destruction in the Modern Age, edited by Charles E. Closmann, 132-49. College Station: Texas A&M Press 2009.

    Wilson, Robert M. "Directing the Flow: Migratory Waterfowl, Scale, and Mobility in Western North America." Environmental History 7, no. 2 (2002): 247-266.

    Book Review Essays and Book Reviews

    Wilson, Robert M. Review of Richard L. Nostrand’s The Making of America’s Culture Regions, in Journal of Historical Geography 63 (2019): 109–10.

    Wilson, Robert M. Review of Serpil Oppermann and Serenella Iovino, eds., in Environmental Humanities: Voices from the Anthropocene, in Environmental Ethics 40, no. 2 (2018): 185–87.

    Wilson, Robert M. Review of Gregory J. Dehler’s The Most Defiant Devil: William Temple Hornaday and His Controversial Crusade to Save American Wildlife, in The AAG Review of Books, 2, no. 4 (2014): 48–50.

    Wilson, Robert M. “Maps with a Message.” Reviews in American History 43 (2015): 484–89.

    Wilson, Robert M. Review of A Storied Wilderness: Rewilding the Apostle Islands in Environmental History 18, no. 1 (2013): 232-34.

    Review of Wired Wilderness: Technologies of Tracking and the Making of Modern Wildlife in H-Environment Roundtable Reviews 3,1 (2013): 12-14. 

    Wilson, Robert M. "Nature's Prophet." Review of A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir, H-HistGeog, (2009).  

    Wilson, Robert. "Retrospective Review: Man's Role in Changing the Face of the Earth," Environmental History 10, no. 3 (2005).

    “Supersize History,” Journal of Historical Geography 31 (2005): 563-567.

    • A review essay of three books in world environmental history: David Christian, Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History, John Richards, The Unending Frontier: An Environmental History of the Early Modern World, and John C. Weaver, The Great Land Rush and the Making of the Modern World, 1650-1900.


      Prospective Students

      I welcome applications from students interested in historical geography-environmental history, environmental social movements, and animal geography. While I serve on committees of students who do work outside North America, I generally do not supervise MA or PhD students who hope to undertake research in places other than the United States or Canada. Those interested in environment-society research outside North America, especially in the Global South, might consider contacting my colleagues Tom Perreault or Farhana Sultana, both of whom do research outside North America and supervise students who do work there. 

      Current Advisees

      Tina Catania (Ph.D.) 

      • Research Interests: political geography, race and migration, gender and the body, identity, feminist geography, Italy.

       Pam Sertzen (Ph.D.) 

      • Research Interests: collective memory, urban geography, activist research and public ethnography, Brazil.

       Jared Whear (Ph.D.) 

      • Research Interests: water management and policy, environmental social movements, western United States.  

       Dominic Wilkins (Ph.D.) 

      • Social movements, political ecology, religion, the environmental humanities. 

        Past Advisees

        Jeremy Bryson (Ph.D., 2010), Assistant Professor, Weber State University 

        • Dissertation: “The Nature of Gentrification: Urban Environments and Redevelopment in the Inland Northwest”

        Kristin Culter (M.A. 2014), Academic Advisor, Newhouse School, Syracuse University 

        • Thesis: “Pets in the City: Managing Surplus Dogs in Syracuse, New York”

        Jon Erickson (M.A. 2018) 

        • Thesis: “Remaking the Rural: National Land for People, Reclamation Law, and Agricultural Reform in California, 1976–1982”

        Heather Ipsen (M.A. 2018), Innovation and Performance Specialist, City of Schenectady 

        • Thesis: “Catching the Cloud and Pinning it Down: The Social and Environmental Impacts of Data Centers”

        James Lindberg (M.A. 2020) 

        • Thesis: “The Road that Made Mountains: Highway Design and the Production of Landscape in Vail, Colorado”

        Brent Olson (Ph.D., 2012), Associate Professor, Environmental Studies, Westminster College 

        • Dissertation: “Recreation Capital: Amenity Development, Resource Management, and Outdoor Recreation in Bend, Oregon”

        Dominic Wilkins (M.A. 2019), PhD student, Syracuse University, Department of Geography and the Environment 

        • Thesis: “Building an Ecological Church: Laudato Si’, Climate Change, and Clergy in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse”

        Teaching Appointments

        Associate Professor, Department of Geography, Syracuse University (2011-present)
        Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, Syracuse University (2005-2011)

        Visiting Appointments

        Carson Fellow, Rachel Carson Center, Munich, Germany, 2016
        Visiting Scholar, Bill Lane Center for the American West, Stanford University (2008-2009)
        NSF Post-Doctoral Fellow, Department of History and Philosophy, Montana State University-Bozeman (2004-2005)

        Professional Service

        Organizer, “Environmental Humanities Symposium,” CNY Humanities Corridor, March 2020

        Series Advisor, Syracuse Studies in Geography, Syracuse University Press (2012-present)

        Editorial Board, Journal of Historical Geography, (2015-present)

        Editorial Board, Historical Geography, (2014-present)

        Chair, AAG Historical Geography Specialty Group (2011-2014)

        Coordinator, SU Environment and Society Minor (2011-2014)

        Undergraduate Director, Department of Geography (2010-2011, 2013-2014)

        Book Review Co-Editor, H-HistGeog (2010-2014)