GEOG 430
Human Use of the Environment

Current Event Essay 1: National Parks


This is our first current event essay, which is designed to get you thinking about how the course material from the last two weeks can help us understand real-world problems.

For this assignment, you will write a 750 - 1000 word essay in response to the prompt below by Thursday of week 3 at 11:59 pm (Eastern Time). Check the calendar in Canvas for specific time frames and due dates. This current event essay is worth a possible 60 points toward your final grade. Please see this page for more information on how you will be graded. You will submit your assignment through turnitin.

This week, we will be examining the National Monument system in the U.S. Last year, the current administration  issued an executive order calling for the review of 27 national monuments.  Specifically, the Department of the Interior was tasked with reviewing boundaries and classifications of those monuments. The decisions will have long term impacts on the landscape and people who live and work within and outside the monument boundaries.

Below are a couple of articles here that take a more in depth look at some of the implications of changing national park boundaries and a general picture of the stakeholders involved in this situation.  In addition to these articles, feel free to do your own research on the topic, including your own research into how this issue has evolved in the past few months.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's Statement on the End of the Monuments Review Public Comment Period

Zinke completes review of 2 more national monuments, leaves them as is

Trump and Ryan Zinke may want to shrink national monument boundaries -- but history points the other way

27 National Monuments Are Under Review. Here Are Five to Watch

U.S. Cattle Grazing Plan for Idaoh's Craters of the Moon Monument Draws Criticism

In response to these articles and drawing on things we've covered in class already, consider the following questions in your response:

  • How does thinking like a human-environment geographer help us to understand how national parks have been viewed in the past and today? Use specific examples from the course material.
  • How do we understand and value nature (e.g., we enjoy having beautiful green lawns), and how does this impact the controversy over changing park boundaries? Think specifically about what you know about culture, conservation, and preservation.
  • How do these value systems vary across geographic scale?  That is, how does being from a different type of place (urban, rural) or operating a different geographic scale (e.g., national, state, local) influence how stakeholders think about and value nature?


The strongest answers will draw specifically on course materials (articles, videos, etc.), use college level language, and make connections across the literature. Make sure to use proper citations!**