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John Muir Symposium a Success

May 7, 2010

John Muir Symposium a Success!

Two hundred people from around the country came together to celebrate the legacy of John Muir from April 21-24, 2010. Professor Bill Swagerty, Director of the John Muir Center, organized the conference along with Bonnie Gisel, author of Nature's Beloved Son: Rediscovering John Muir's Botanical Legacy.

Muir Woods Photograph Unveiled

Katie Holcomb, a senior majoring in Visual Arts, designed the logo for this year’s John Muir symposium.

Katie Holcomb, a senior majoring in Visual Arts, designed the logo and the poster for this year's John Muir symposium

The conference started with a toast to celebrate John Muir's 172nd birthday and Earth Day on April 21 and ended on April 24 with the unveiling of a large panoramic photo of Muir Woods by Stephen Joseph, a Bay Area–based professional landscape photographer who has been honored as the Centennial photographer for Muir Woods National Monument. Pacific's Powell Scholars dedicated this piece of art, which hangs in the library, to President Pamela Eibeck.

The primary symposium events took place on Friday and Saturday in Grace Covell Hall, which was adorned with plenty of photographs and art dedicated to John Muir's world. Scholarly presentations covered Muir's botanical studies in Yosemite and Calaveras Big Trees Park, Muir's glacier research and his "religion of nature."

Students Participate as Muir Scholars

For the first time in the history of the Muir Symposium, undergraduate students participated in the program. Students from Dr. Swagerty's "John Muir's World" class (HIST 052), many of whom are Environmental Studies majors, shared their research on Muir. Each student briefly summarized his or her research topic and described source materials used—including those from Pacific's special collection of John Muir's works housed in the library. (See the list of students and their research topics below.)

The second day focused on John Muir's legacy for environmental education and its impact at Pacific, in the United Kingdom and on the Web.

Food Muir Would Approve Of

Delicious Scottish fare spiced up the conference on Friday, and a 19th century California theme lunch was served on Saturday featuring foods that would have been familiar to John Muir and his family from the gardens and orchards at their Martinez ranch, including fig empanadas, chicken mole ranchero, and peach cobbler.

The conference offered something for everybody, and proved that John Muir's legacy lives on! 

Dr. Bill Swagerty (far right) with students from his “John Muir’s World” class who presented research at the Muir Symposium.
Dr. Bill Swagerty (far right) with students from his "John Muir's World" class who presented research at the Muir Symposium.

Students and Their Research Titles

Max Amaya: "John Muir's Unique Yellowstone Experience"
Christina Autry
: "Examining Muir's Views on Fire as an Ecological Tool in the Sierra Nevada"
Alexi Bernard
: "John Muir's Understanding of Our Universe"
Kaitlin Blagg
: "A Closer Look at Stikeen and John Muir"
Joseph Curley
: "John Muir on 'Natural Death'"
Minhchao Dinh
: "'I am ever your admiring friend': The Correspondence between John Muir and Asa Gray"
Steve Griffin
: "The Water Ouzel as Keystone Species in Muir's World"
Elena McDonald-Martyn
: "John Muir—The Women Who Influenced His Views on Natural Science"
Nikki Mainwaring
: "John Muir's Geology of the Grand Canyon Region"
Catie Mendez
: "John Muir and the Sierra Club: Then and Now"
Robyn Mendoza
: "The Last Frontier: John Muir as Naturalist in Alaska"
Claudia Muro
: "John Muir—'Earth-Planet-Universe': The Cosmos as Natural Unity"
Danielle Rockley
: "John Muir: Rock Climber Extraordinaire"
Jennifer Sese
: "Sketching by Sight: The Drawings of John Muir"
Michael Shea
: "John Muir: Life Among the Trees"

Dr. Richard Shore, a Muir impersonator, transforms from Scottish gentleman to a bearded adventurer during his performance.
Dr. Richard Shore, a Muir impersonator, transforms from Scottish gentleman to a bearded adventurer during his performance.

Graham White, a photographer, editor and educator from the U.K., spoke on
Bill Hanna (left), John Muir's great grandson and a Pacific alumnus, with Graham White, a photographer, editor and educator from the U.K., who spoke on "John Muir's Impact on Environmental Education in the United Kingdom."

Download the  2010 Program Symposium
Download the Download the 2010 Muir Symposium Poster with summary of events.

Related Links:

John Muir Center

John Muir Papers (Holt-Atherton Special Collections)

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