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School of the Earth, Ocean and Environment

Faculty and Staff Directory

Thomas Lekan

Title: Associate Professor, History
Associate Professor, Earth, Ocean & Environment
Department: History; Earth, Ocean & Environment
College of Arts and Sciences
Phone: 803-777-5928
Office: Gambrell Hall, Room 135

Curriculum Vitae [pdf]
Department of History 
School of Earth, Ocean and Environment

tom lekan


  • B.A. Carleton College
  • M.A. University of Washington
  • Ph.D. University of Wisconsin


Professor Lekan teaches undergraduate surveys of European civilization and modern Germany, as well as thematic undergraduate courses and seminars on global conservation and comparative environmental history, the urban experience in modern Europe, and Nazi social history. His research focuses on European environmental history and the global dimensions of nature and wildlife conservation, ecotourism, and green imperialism; comparative urban and regional planning history; and the environmental humanities. His publications include Imagining the Nation in Nature: Landscape Preservation and German Identity, 1885-1945 (Harvard, 2004), the co-edited volume Germany’s Nature: Cultural Landscapes and Environmental History (Rutgers, 2005), and articles in the journals German History, The Journal of Modern History, New German Critique, Environmental Humanities, and Environmental History that explore German environmental traditions in a global and comparative context.

My current book manuscript, Last Refuge: A “Strange German” Quest to Save the Serengeti, investigates the work of Bernhard Grzimek, Germany’s most important twentieth-century conservationist. The book examines the tensions between global ambition and local place-making during the mid-century expansion of national parks, nature tourism, and wildlife television. Working with scholars and editors at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Munich, I also recently published a co-edited, open-source anthology of essays: Whose Anthropocene: Revisiting Dipesh Chakrabarty’s “Four Theses.”

These projects have received generous fellowship support from several institutions, including the American Council for Learned Societies, the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C., Princeton University’s Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies, the National Humanities Center, and the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Munich.


  • Modern Germany
  • Environmental History
  • Urban History