Faculty Profiles - Richard Judd, Professor of History
Video Text: “I’m Richard Judd and I’m a professor of history at the University of Maine, and my specialty is environmental history, which is a new field; sort of a response to the development of environmentalism in the 1970’s and 1980’s and it’s a very interesting field for that reason. It’s still sorting things out, developing its own methodologies and its hypotheses. So it’s very exciting to be a part of something that’s in such a formative stage right now. It’s so linked to policy considerations, almost everything that you could think of in this relationship between humans and the natural environment has implications for the way we treat our landscapes today. For instance, why do we fill in swamps to build malls and we fight like crazy to protect a landscape like Mt. Katahdin.
“These are historical questions, but they form policy decisions. And the policy decisions we make today really lead to historical questions as well so there’s this constant exchange going on between what’s happening today and these older environmental issues that keep cropping up and keep cropping up time after time.
“This is a place that attracts students who are sort of pre-adapted to valuing landscapes, nature landscapes. It’s a beautiful place to study, we have rivers like this all over the state; mountains, we have everything you could want in the way of a beautiful natural landscape. So people who come here I think, are naturally interested in understanding how these landscapes have been transformed over time. I think that’s really important.
“The other nice thing about the University of Maine is that it has an enormous research component, through the Forestry School, the School of Agriculture, the Department of Agriculture, Sustainable Agriculture, Fisheries, Sea Grant, Marine Sciences, Parks and Recreation, all sorts of related fields here at the University of Maine. So if a person is interested in history, you can start say in the history department, but also bring in all these other disciplines that are so very related to environmental history.
“I think the nice thing about Maine is that it’s large enough that there’s a very diverse student body here, different age groups, different interest, different ethnicities. So we get people from all backgrounds here, and yet it’s small enough that my upper division classes are, oh 15 to 25 students for instance; which means that I can get to know their interests, these very different interests on a personal level with the students. So I can keep my classes fairly interactive, you know an exchange back and forth between myself and the students. I can meet with students after class or in my office. So it’s very nice because of that informal atmosphere that we have here.”