As a professor at University of California, Berkeley Carolyn Finney explores how difference, identity, representation, and power play a significant role in determining how people negotiate their daily lives in relation to the environment. Although Carolyn pursed an acting career for eleven years, a backpacking trip around the world and living in Nepal changed the course of her life. Motivated by these experiences, she returned to school after a 15-year absence to complete a B.A., and M.A. in international development. She recently completed her Ph.D. in geography at Clark University in Massachusetts and is a Canon National Parks Science Scholarship recipient. Working with other individuals, community groups, and environmental organizations, her research seeks to broaden our understanding of African Americans and environment interactions. As a Fulbright fellow, she has also researched the impacts of tourism and modernization on Nepalese women and the environment. In 2005/06, she was a Newhouse/Mellon postdoctoral fellow at Wellesley College in Massachusetts in Environmental Studies and Humanities.
Along with public speaking and consulting, she serves on a number of national boards and committees including the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Center for Whole Communities. Carolyn was particularly honored to serve as a commissioner on the Second Century National Parks Commission this past year along with Sandra Day O’Connor, Sylvia Earle, John Fahey of National Geographic Magazine and other distinguished individuals. She has recently been appointed by Secretary Salazar to continue that work on the National Parks Advisory Board. She has written a number of essays – her most recent entitled, “Child’s Play: Finding the Green in the In-between” will be in the upcoming Companions in Wonder: Reflections on Children and Adults Exploring Nature Together by Steve Kellert and Julie Dunlap. Carolyn’s first book manuscript, Black Faces, White Spaces: African Americans and the Great Outdoors, is forthcoming (UNC Press).