Robert Thorson is Professor of Geology at the University of Connecticut where he juggles teaching, research, mentoring, and committee work. Though he shares a joint appointment in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and the Department of Anthropology, his main teaching responsibilities are for the Center for Integrative Geosciences, and the Honors Core Curriculum, where he teaches AMST 1700 (Walden and the American Landscape) with history colleague Christopher Clark, and GSCI 1055 (Geoscience and the American Landscape) to beginning geology students with an interest in history and literature.
His latest book — The Boatman: Henry David Thoreau’s River Years (Harvard, 2017) is the second book in a two-part re-assessment of Thoreau’s legacy written from the point of view of a card-carrying physical scientist. His earlier book, Walden’s Shore: Henry David Thoreau and Nineteenth-Century Science (Harvard, 2014) “makes a persuasive case for Thoreau as a physical scientist….[and]… shows what a scientific eco-, or rather geocriticism looks like.” The preceding quote is from a review in Transantlantica, and international American Studies journal. These two books, combined his his previous four, present what he calls “cultural geology,” this discipline’s contribution to American Studies and Environmental Studies. For the last fourteen years he’s also been a regular opinion columnist for The Hartford Courant, where he has been weighing in on environmental and educational policy. Finally, he coordinates the Stone Wall Initiative for the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History.
A native Midwesterner with Scandinavian-American sodbuster roots, he moved to New England from Alaska in 1984. Away from work, he’s a father, son, husband, and solitary soul whose principal hobbies involve Nature, reading, cooking and public television.