Gary Klee

Gary Klee

Professor, Environmental Studies

What research questions currently preoccupy you?

Although I have published dozens of journal articles, book reviews, photographs, etc., I have spent most of my 39+ years at SJSU working on books that would be useful for my teaching: World Systems of Traditional Resource Management (Edward Arnold, London) for ENVS 117, Human Ecology; Conservation of Natural Resources (Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey) for ENVS 110, Resource Analysis; and The Coastal Environment for ENVS 189 Coastal Field Studies. I have now finished my fourth book, California Coastal Wetlands for ENVS 144, California Wetland Controversies. I am now “preoccupied” with two things: (1) Locking in a publisher for the last manuscript, and simultaneously (2) “Brainstorming” ideas for my next book.

What personal factors contributed to your study of the environment?

When I was an undergraduate at San Francisco State University back in the 1960s, there was no such thing as Departments of Environmental Studies. One day, I stumbled into a course on Physical Geography by Dr. Eydal. He fit my image of a “real” professor (e.g., older; tweed coat with patches on the arms; pipe smoking; and having a foreign accent). When he starting showing color slides of volcanoes in Iceland, I was immediately hooked on human/land relationships.

What has been most challenging in your research?

This is difficult to answer because I have not had just one or two research agendas. As some have said, “Gary periodically re-invents himself”—from studying traditional (indigenous) world conservation systems (the first book), to studying U.S. modern day conservation management strategies (the 2nd book), to studying regional (coastal) conservation systems (the third book), to studying the conservation and management of just one type of biome (wetlands), the fourth book. Each project presented its own set of challenges.

How has your position in SJSU contributed to your research?

SJSU has allowed me to follow my research and teaching interests as they evolved over the years. If a course didn’t already exist within the department, I was allowed to develop new courses that matched my interests. Consequently, I have always been able to research and teach “my hobbies”—(e.g., islands and other international cultures [ENVS 117]; coastal & ocean issues [ENVS 189]; nature photography [ENVS 166]; wetlands, my favorite thing to photograph [ENVS 144]; and even gardening [ENVS 118, Sustainable Home Gardens].

A hidden (research) talent:

Probably my ability to use photography as a tool for conservation.

One book that changed your life (or research) & why:

Professor Raymond Dasmann’s Environmental Conservation. That one book put “a label” on what truly was my interest area. In Professor Dasmann’s last edition of the book, I was greatly flattered when he (my mentor) was now quoting several passages from my own writing. It was now full circle; I could not have been more honored.

A website/journal/newspaper (in your field?) you follow without fail:

The Journal of Human Ecology: An Interdisciplinary Journal.

Advice you’d give to newer faculty or students:

Advice to newer faculty: Have fun with your students and learn from them; don’t be an ogre. Advice to students thinking about going to graduate school: Consider linking international service (e.g., Peace Corps) with your graduate studies. By linking your master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation to your international field assignment, your graduate studies will be richer, faster, and less expensive. Peace Corps provided the funds, the field site, the time, and the motivation for me to complete my master’s and doctoral dissertation. If it wasn’t for that international experience, I would not be here today.

RSCA Accomplishments

Klee, Gary A. 1999. The Coastal Environment: Toward Integrated Coastal and Marine Sanctuary Management. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall 265 pp.
Klee Gary A. 1991. Conservation of Natural Resources. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 410 pp."