Getting a Sense of Place

May 8, 2018

Judy Meyer

Picture yourself in a national park like Denali, the Everglades or Yellowstone.

What comes to mind?

Dr. Judith Meyer, a historical geographer at Missouri State University, wants to know how you experience that landscape and why. 

She has long been fascinated with Yellowstone, where she served as a tour guide for several summers. One of her research interests is what she calls the sense of place.

For many, that sense of place at Yellowstone included a close encounter with a bear. In the 1960s and 1970s, though, Meyer noted that it became obvious the bears were getting too much of their daily food from people and the garbage dumps at Yellowstone. She talks about the decision to change the bears to a more natural feeding habit and how it changed the experience for tourists.

More and more, she said, it’s become obvious that land use decisions can’t be made in a vacuum – even when they are good decisions. Another positive change became evident through a rephotography project. In the summer of 2014, Meyer traveled with a team of students and colleagues to Yellowstone to hike, map and replicate some historical photos she had of the Howard Eaton Trail. 

Read her full Mind's Eye story.