Kent (Kip) Curtis

Associate Professor, Faculty
Department of History


Curtis specializes in Environmental History and Humanities with research and teaching foci on mining, environmental ideas, and food systems. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in modern United States history and environmental history and offers independent studies in environmental history and environmental studies and sciences.

As an affiliate member of the Ohio State Discovery Theme focus area Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformations (InFACT), Curtis is the Principal Investigator in a community-led food system intervention project in Mansfield, Ohio. In addition to coordinating development for the initiation of an urban microfarm production system for the small city, Curtis has developed, constructed, and is working with students and alumni to grow food on a demonstration urban microfarm built atop a former parking lot on the Ohio State Mansfield campus. This model small-plot, high yield microfarm currently produces food for the campus cafeteria, the campus community, and local restaurants.

Curtis is also a finalist for the Alliance for the American Dream Initiative, which you can learn more about here.

Q & A

What makes more livable futures for you?  

I spent a long time locked in an apocalyptic mindset. World endings, it turns out, are not particularly inspirational and to the degree that they motivate people, it tends to be in bursts of righteous indignation that burn out as quickly as they erupt and leave no useful wake. In Walden, Thoreau did not see clear cuts, he saw resilience. More recently, Anna Tsing declawed capitalism in Mushroom at the End of the World, encouraging us to view the vast web of relationships that continue to sustain us deep into the Anthropocene. A livable future is a hopeful future, an empowered future, a future where despair has been set aside and new roots and new shoots of a more democratic and more ecological and fundamentally just world have been seeded and cultivated. We remake our worlds every day, let’s begin to design a sustainable one.

What are you reading, viewing, listening to right now?    

Reading: Anna Tsing, Mushroom at the End of the World. Arturo Escobar, Designs for the Pluriverse: Radical Interdependency, Autonomy, and the Making of Worlds 

Listening: Serial, Ear Hustle, RadioLab, 99% Invisible

What practices are sustaining you?  

Discovering a new role for humanists to be leaders and designers of interdisciplinary teams and projects. Translating our insights to engineers and scientists who can enlist their tools on behalf of justice, ecological sustainability, and human flourishing. I am building a new kind of food economy that will maximize democracy and justice and community well-being instead of focusing exclusively on profit. I am learning with communities in Ohio that partisan ideology has almost no place in day to day existence and most people want the same things. I am looking beyond the moment and building for a better world.