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Background Image Ranchers and Students Discuss Tallgrass Prairie

Kansas 1972: Think Globally, Act Locally


In 1972, the same year Humanities Kansas was founded, Congress passed the Clean Water Act, the United Nations held its first Conference on the Human Environment, the Club of Rome published “The Limits to Growth,” and the Keep America Beautiful campaign tried to persuade people to stop throwing trash pretty much everywhere but waste-cans. 

The era of the late 1960s and early 1970s is really when environmental issues become important concerns for many Americans. When the first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970, tens of thousands of individuals across the country engaged in community clean up projects, and listened to speakers extol the importance of environmental conservation.

And Kansans were part of this larger awakening. In the early 1970s, the Kansas Committee for the Humanities (now Humanities Kansas) issued a number of grants to Kansas Communities that facilitated discussions on issues like the effects of industrialization on air and water quality, land use concerns, and how environmental problems would affect Kansans’ quality of life.

In Episode 4, we’ll hear Kansas stories from this era of environmental issues entering the public consciousness, including plans by the US government to put a nuclear waste disposal site in Kansas and how the integration of art and science helped bring public attention to the prairie.



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Archival Audio Sources

Primary Sources

Secondary Sources


  • Tom Wellock, historian at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  • Herb Duncan, architect and husband of Patricia Duncan
  • Linda Duke, Director of the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art at Kansas State University

Music for whole episode: Clelia Walking







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