|Education||University of Kansas
|Occupation||Hall Distinguished Professor of American History|
|Employer||University of Kansas|
Donald Worster (born 1941) is the Hall Distinguished Professor of American History at the University of Kansas. He is considered one of the founders of, and leading figures in, the field of environmental history; and in 2009, he was named to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Donald Worster was born in 1941. He received a Bachelor of Arts in 1963 and a Master of Arts in 1964 from the University of Kansas. He continued his education at Yale University, earning an M.Phil. in 1970 and a PhD. in 1971.
He came to the University of Kansas in 1989 to occupy the Hall Chair in American History, thus returning to his undergraduate institution and his home region. Throughout his career, Worster has written several books including, The Wealth of Nature, Under Western Skies, Rivers of Empire, Dust Bowl: The Southern Plains in the 1930s, Nature's Economy, and A River Running West: The Life of John Wesley Powell. He is the former president of the American Society for Environmental History and a member of the Western History Association, the Organization of American Historians, and the American Historical Association. Throughout his career, he has lectured extensively in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Latin America, as well as throughout North America.
Worster is primarily interested in the emerging field of environmental history-the changing perception of nature, the rise of conservation and environmentalism, but especially the ways that the natural world has impinged on human society and provided the context for human life over time. He also has strong interests in comparative history (esp. U.S. and Canada), in American regionalism (particularly the West), in agriculture, and in science and technology.
He has defined farms and gardens as "domesticated ecologies," in other words places where human beings change their surroundings and are changed by them.
Awards and honors
- 2001: National Outdoor Book Award (History/Biography category), A River Running West: The Life of John Wesley Powell
- 1979: Bancroft Prize, Dust Bowl: The Southern Plains in the 1930s.
- A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir (2008) ISBN 0-19-516682-5
- A River Running West: The Life of John Wesley Powell (2002) ISBN 0-19-515635-8
- An Unsettled Country: Changing Landscapes of the American West (1994) ISBN 0-8263-1481-3
- The Wealth of Nature: Environmental History and the Ecological Imagination (1994) ISBN 0-19-507624-9
- Rivers of Empire: Water, Aridity, and the Growth of the American West (1985) ISBN 0-19-507806-3, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize
- Dust Bowl: The Southern Plains in the 1930s (1979) ISBN 0-19-502550-4, which won a Bancroft Prize and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize
- Nature's Economy: A History of Ecological Ideas (1977) ISBN 0-87156-197-2
"Whatever terrain the environmental historian chooses to investigate, he has to address the age-old predicament of how humankind can feed itself without degrading the primal source of life. Today as ever, that problem is the fundamental challenge in human ecology, and meeting it will require knowing the earth well--knowing its history and knowing its limits." 
- "KU professor elected to prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences". KU News Release. 2009-04-22. Check date values in:
- Rebecca Jones, Green Harvest: A History of Organic Farming and Gardening in Australia, Collingwood, Victoria: Csiro Publishing, 2010, p. vii
- "Tranformations of the Earth: toward an Agroecological Perspective in History," Journal of American History 76:4 (March 1990): 1106. [links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0021-8723(199003)76%3A4%3C1087%3ATOTETA%3E2.0.CO%3B2-6]
- University of Kansas faculty page - Worster's biography
- 2008 Q&A on Worster's biographies of John Wesley Powell and John Muir
- Interview with Worster on "New Books in History"