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Jay Turner '95 Publishes First Book

James Morton Turner, a 1995 graduate of Washington and Lee who is an assistant professor of environmental studies at Wellesley College, has published his first book, “The Promise of Wilderness: American Environmental Politics since 1964” (University of Washington Press).

Jay explores how the idea of wilderness has shaped the management of public lands in the decades since the passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964. According to Jay’s Wellesley website, he wanted to examine two questions: “How have debates over the public lands affected modern environmental politics and how have debates over environmental reform affected American politics more broadly?”

Jay received a B.S. in independent studies (neuroscience) from W&L and then went to Brown University, where he earned a master’s in American civilization. Next he went to Princeton, where he earned both a Ph.D. in history (concentrating on the history of science) and a Certificate in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School. He joined the faculty in environmental sciences at Wellesley in 2006 and teaches courses in U.S. environmental history and U.S. environmental politics, among others.

According to his website, for his next project, Jay will examine the environmental history of batteries. “Today, batteries are seen as crucial to a wide range of sustainable technologies, such as electric automobiles and renewable energy.  But batteries have a long history as an enabling technology, making possible the systems of transportation and communication that transformed society in the twentieth century. By focusing on the history of this ubiquitous consumer product, this project reframes the social and environmental costs of the modern consumer economy and raises questions about the role of technological innovation in environmental sustainability.”

In the short video interview below, Jay discusses his new book: