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LJWorld.com weblogs Heard on the Hill

A dispatch from the KU historian involved with 'The Dust Bowl,' by way of Beijing

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Don Worster, professor of American history at Kansas University, combined his passions of history and environmental studies to create a new field of study: environmental history. The hybrid study looks at how humans have manipulated the environment in a historical way.

Don Worster, professor of American history at Kansas University, combined his passions of history and environmental studies to create a new field of study: environmental history. The hybrid study looks at how humans have manipulated the environment in a historical way. by Nick Krug

I mentioned yesterday that I was hoping to get in touch with retired KU historian Donald Worster to discuss his role in the new Ken Burns documentary "The Dust Bowl," and I'm happy to report I was successful.

Worster is busy teaching a seminar in China right now, though, so he had time only to send a short email message. He's serving as a distinguished foreign expert in the School of History at Renmin University of China in Beijing. But I'll pass on his dispatch to you.

He reported that he traveled twice to New Hampshire, where Burns' studios are located, at Burns' request to help out. He said he was interviewed for about two hours by Burns himself and spent additional time talking to his co-filmmaker, Dayton Duncan. He also looked over a script for the film by mail.

"I strongly recommend that all people in Kansas watch the film," he wrote in conclusion, "and ask what lessons that tragedy may hold for our future."

Both parts of the documentary are available to watch at pbs.org.

That'll do it for Heard on the Hill this week. We'll be back on Monday. In the meantime, keep those KU news tips coming to merickson@ljworld.com, and also feel free to share your thoughts on our new format here. Happy Thanksgiving.

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