Lauret Savoy

Professor of Environmental Studies

The complex twining of natural and cultural histories that has marked American landscapes and the people in them; images and ideas of landscapes, particularly in the American West; environmental history of the United States

A teacher, earth scientist, writer, photographer, and pilot, Lauret Savoy is also a woman of mixed African-American, Euro-American, and Native American heritage. Her courses explore the stories we tell of the American land's origins— and the stories we tell of ourselves in this land. In each course, Savoy challenges students to examine their assumptions about the world and about history. In 2003, she was a recipient of the College's Distinguished Teaching Award. She has also been chosen by senior classes as a Baccalaureate speaker and Last Lecturer.  

Savoy’s new book is Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape (Counterpoint Press, November 2015). This mosaic of historical inquiry and personal journeys across a continent and time explores how the country’s still unfolding history has marked us and the land.

“Springing from the literal Earth to metaphor,” notes the Kirkus Review, “Savoy demonstrates the power of narrative to erase as easily as it reveals, yielding a provocative, eclectic exposé of the palimpsest historically defining the U.S. as much as any natural or man-made boundary.”

In The Colors of Nature: Culture, Identity, and the Natural World (Milkweed Editions, 2011, co-edited with Alison Hawthorne Deming), provocative essays weave diverse experiences of place to create a larger and more textured cloth than the largely monochromatic tradition of American nature writing or of the mainstream environmental movement. Booklist called this book an “unprecedented and invaluable collection.” Savoy also compiled and edited Bedrock: Writers on the Wonders of Geology (Trinity University Press, 2006 with Eldridge and Judy Moores), which the Wall Street Journal picked as one of its five best science books. In addition, she is co-author of Living with the Changing California Coast (University of California Press, 2005) with Gary Griggs and Kiki Patsch. Savoy also worked with the University Press of New England to re-issue Alien Land, the long out-of-print novel on “Negro passing” written by her father Willard Wilson Savoy. Her column appears in the on-line journal

Savoy served as the director of Mount Holyoke’s Miller Worley Center for the Environment, and she is on the board of directors of the National Parks Conservation Association.

News Links