Great Plains Studies

"The grass is rich and matted, you cannot see the soil.
It holds the rain and the mist, and they seep into the ground...
It is well-tended, and not too many cattle feed upon it;
Not too many fires burn it, laying bare the soil."

Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton

Situated in tallgrass country near the West's legendary trails, Emporia State University (ESU) emphasizes the study of the grasslands as one of its primary responsibilities, not only to Kansas, but the entire Great Plains region. When the Kansas Board of Regents authorized the Center for Great Plains Studies in 1977, that sense of responsibility became an exclusive mandate for ESU.

Academic programs, public service activities, and research projects are intended to inform, interest, and promote appreciation of the sprawling mid-continental grasslands. Here, academic fields in the natural sciences, fine arts, social sciences, and humanities converge. Faculty members from art to zoology study the common and the uncommon elements of the Great Plains that endow the region with its particular texture and spirit.

 great plains map

There are four major grasslands in the world--the Pampas of South America, the Savanna of Africa, the Steppes of eastern Europe and central Asia, and the Great Plains of North America. The Great Plains is an area of land 400 miles wide lying just east of the Rocky Mountains. Its vastness stretches from Mexico, north for approximately 2,500 miles, into central Canada expanding through ten states and three provinces including North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.