The Prairie inspires art and natural exploration for many, and our initiative means to further those explorations. Take, for instance two images of items in the Beach Museum's holdings, created over 100 years apart: a Currier and Ives's Lithograph, "Prairie Hens", ca. 1870 (this image) and a photo by Patricia Duncan of the Prairie Hen, entitled "Greater Prairie Chicken - Flint Hills #37" (Copyright held by the Beach Museum, the image below). Each highlights the Prairie Hen through vivid artistry and great interest for representing them in their native environment, the Prairie.

The Prairie inspires art and natural exploration for many, and our initiative intends to further those explorations. Above: Currier and Ives, "Prairie Hens", Lithograph, ca. 1870. Below: Patricia Duncan, "Greater Prairie Chicken - Flint Hills #37." chromogenic print, date unknown

Patricia Duncan Image of the Prairie Hen

The Prairie Studies Initiative is a collaborative venture of K-State faculty, staff students, and community to explore the prairie and its significance.


The Prairie Studies Initiative aims to strengthen dialogue and inspire creative scholarship among those engaged in understanding the natural ecosystems, history, culture, and livelihoods of the prairie, and to employ the arts to make this research meaningful to a wide public.


The Initiative organizes both professional and public events that pair leaders in the arts and humanities with leaders in natural, physical, technical, and social sciences to stimulate communication and creative research among scholars. Broadly, the Initiative fosters both new research projects and greater understanding on the part of the public of the complex issues central to the health of the prairie.


The Prairie Studies initiative grew out of a series of conversations among faculty, staff and community members during the development and installation of The Meadow (see our projects page) and a growing interest in cross disciplinary research and programs around the Kansas Prairie. The scholars hope to gather research, lectures, programs, and the develop an interdisciplinary conversation on campus and with the larger public.

We see the Initiative as part of K-State’s land grant mission and 2025 goals. The university aims to provide strong scientific and technical education that is not limited to job skills and that distinguishes K-State from other schools with technical and agricultural strengths.

The Prairie Studies Initiative is is a place-based initiative that marshals a full range of expertise from a variety of fields to better understand our region through its economics, ecosystems, culture, traditional livelihoods, and history.

Currently, Prairie Studies Initiative programs and projects are guided by an on-campus Steering Committee comprised of the following members:

Katie Kingery-Page, PLA is an associate professor of landscape architecture at Kansas State University and a licensed landscape architect. Kingery-Page’s teaching, practice, and scholarly work address landscape architecture as a humanities process and product, grounded in community needs.

Elizabeth Dodd is an essayist, poet, and University Distinguished Professor in the English Department at Kansas State University. Her work explores the relationships among humans and the more-than-human world.

Shreepad Joglekar is a lens-based artist from India, currently an assistant professor of art at Kansas State University. Exploring natural, cultural, and intellectual environments has been a dominant theme in his work.

Linda Duke serves as director of the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art at Kansas State University. She convened the first Prairie Studies Initiative meeting in 2013.

For 2015-16, the following people have agreed to provide input to the Steering Committee as External Advisors:

Marlis Mann brings to PSI educational policy experience (local, state, and national), conviction about the importance of cross-disciplinary communication in problem solving, and deep connections with western Kansas. As a young person she was mentored by Marianna Kistler Beach.

Lee Borck is chairman of both Innovative Livestock Services Inc. and the Beef Marketing Group Cooperative. His perspective on all aspects of the cattle industry in Kansas and the region is widely respected.

Lauren Bon is an artist whose work is characterized by deep interrogations of regional environmental history and current ecological conditions, and community-engaged strategies for improving quality of life. Though her focus has long been on the intermountain West, she has long cultivated a special connection to the prairie and its signature animal inhabitants, the bison.

Jim Richardson is a photographer of global issues and landscapes for National Geographic Magazine. Though his projects take him around the world, he has often returned to subjects of the prairie and rural life, the Flint Hills, and the practice of agriculture.

The steering committee and additional faculty are interested in helping students, community members and other scholars learn more about the Prairie Studies initiative and related opportunities. Contact information is available at this link.