Natale Zappia is a graduate of Cornell University (BS), Claremont Graduate University (MA), and the University of California, Santa Cruz (Ph.D.). He is Professor of History and Director of the Institute for Sustainability (IS) at California State University, Northridge (CSUN). Before assuming the Director role at IS, Zappia served as the Nadine Austin Wood Chair of American History at Whittier College, where he also co-directed the Integrated Arts and Humanities Program (funded by the Mellon Foundation) and the Sustainable Urban Farm Lab (SUrF). As a scholar trained in early American, environmental, and borderlands history, Zappia's work aims to better understand patterns of production and consumption between regions and communities across North America. His research and teaching also explores the ways that continental trading networks, food pathways, and ecologies transformed North America over the past three centuries. Zappia's work on long term environmental change intersects with his interest in modern food systems and community-based movements which are fighting to gain access to healthy environments in rural and urban areas.
Zappia first became interested in these issues while an undergraduate. At Cornell, he took courses with the historian Robert Venables, whose work with the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) showed him the importance of practicing engaged scholarship. He continued to explore these themes in the Ph.D. program at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he completed UCSC's Center for World History Program (directed by Terry Burke: link to site). These experiences shaped his scholarship in multiple ways, and he has since applied these methodological lenses to better understand American environments and identities across time and regions.
Zappia is leading and/or collaborating on numerous public, environmental, and digital humanities projects related to these issues in Los Angeles, California, and the American West, which you can explore on this website.
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