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StudioTulsa
3:05 pm
Mon October 28, 2013

Back to the Land, Complete with Bison and Prairies: Prof. Deborah Popper and the Buffalo Commons

For the first time ever, the Tulsa Global Alliance, the Gilcrease Museum, and The University of Tulsa were jointly awarded a grant from the Institute of International Education to host more than 70 Fulbright Scholars from around the world at a Fulbright Enrichment Seminar here in our community. The seminar, running from October 23rd through the 26th, will feature Fulbright scholars from a range of academic backgrounds --- and hailing from some 40 countries --- all of whom will focus on historic and/or modern views of land and culture in the American West; the seminar, entitled "Old to New West: The Role of Land in Shaping the American Story," will occur at the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa as well as the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve near Pawhuska. Our guest today is one of the Fulbright Scholars participating in this event: Deborah Popper is Professor of Political Science and Global Affairs at the College of Staten Island in the City University of New York. (You can read her full bio here.) Prof. Popper is well-known in academic circles for proposing (along with her husband, Prof. Frank J. Popper of Rutgers University) the so-called Buffalo Commons idea back in 1987. Considered all but heretical at the time of its publication but now taken seriously in certain quarters, this "from farming back to ranching" proposal, per its Wiki entry, involves the suggested creation of "a vast nature preserve by returning 139,000 square miles of the drier portion of the Great Plains to native prairie, and by reintroducing the American bison ("buffalo") that once grazed the shortgrass prairie. The proposal would affect six Western states (Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas) and four Midwest states (North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas)."

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