College of Arts and Sciences

Whole Earth Living

Kathleen Smythe, chair and professor of history, published a new book in September 2020. 

Her book, entitled Whole Earth Living: Reconnecting Earth, History, Body and Mind, lays out a sustainable path based on human nature and evolution as well as histories of technology and agriculture.


“If we are to take full advantage of the chance for a planetary reset that the COVID-19 pandemic affords us, Kathleen Smythe’s deep dive into our genetic and cultural inheritance is a good place to start. Smythe’s analysis of the role of feet and hands in human evolution alone is worth the price of the book and can change your life. Even more important is her proposal for an education geared to homecoming. Focused on socially useful work and community resilience, Smythe’s case for place-based, experiential learning will produce ecologically informed citizens who will help us save our world.”

 —John D. Fairfield, Professor of History at Xavier University  


Kathleen Smythe’s Whole Earth Living combines scholarship and personal experience, analysis and activism, thinking and feeling—the kind of thoughtful work we need from universities today. With a historian’s deep sense of history, Smythe honestly faces the crises—social and ecological—that define our world and offers a framework for thinking about a way back into our bodies and to the earth. This is a book that is both bracing and tender, as Smythe finds ways to deal with harsh realities that are restorative. Whole Earth Living is recommended reading for those of us in industrial societies who are searching for more engaged ways to live today that can help create more options for the future.

—Robert Jensen, Emeritus Professor, University of Texas at Austin, author of Plain Radical: Living, Loving, and Learning to Leave the Planet Gracefully.