Portrait of Professor Karen Jones

Professor Karen Jones

Professor of Environmental and Cultural History
Director of the Centre for the Study of Health, Science, and Environment
Senior Management Team for Positive Environmental Futures Signature Research Theme


Professor Karen Jones earned her doctorate from the University of Bristol, and worked as a teaching fellow at the University of Essex, before arriving at Kent in 2004. 

Her areas of expertise lie in environmental and cultural history; historical geography; spatial studies and human-animal relations.

Research interests

Karen is an enthusiastic supporter of environmental history, historical geography and animal studies. Her books include Wolf Mountains: The History of Wolves Along the Great Divide (2002) – a comparative study of the biology, mythology and culture surrounding wolves in national parks in the Rockies – and The Invention of the Park (2005), a survey of the park idea from the Garden of Eden to British landscape parks and beyond. She is co-author of a post-revisionist monograph on the American West (The American West: Competing Visions, 2009) and has published widely on national parks and transnational nature conservation (Civilizing Nature (2012)), resource consumption, guns and empire (A Cultural History of Firearms in the Age of Empire (2013)), hunting, animal encounters and storytelling (Epiphany in the Wilderness: Hunting, Nature and Performance in the American West (2015)) and celebrity, frontier society and gender transgressions (Calamity: The Many Lives of Calamity Jane (2020)).

Karen leads the innovative Lungs of the City project, which is funded by the Wellcome Trust. The project looks at the city park as a place of health and wellbeing across a global geography.

She is currently working on three research projects:

  • the city park as a site of health, civic memory and human-nature engagement in the urban landscape
  • taxidermy and the interior ecology of the natural history museum in the age of the Anthropocene
  • ‘Beastly Britain’: a popular history of humans and other species in the UK, contracted as a book for Yale University Press


Karen teaches on environmental and cultural history across various geographies.


Karen is interested in supervising postgraduates who want to work on any aspect of environmental history, historical geography or animal studies.


Always eager to find a reason to talk about animals, green space and the complicated entanglements humans have with the planet, Karen has worked with various public and media organisations, from Parks Canada to the BBC. She is a trustee of the Landscape Research Group, an international, independent and not-for-profit organisation working to advance interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary landscape research through dissemination, communication and exchange across global communities of interest.

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