The National Park Service Division of International Affairs: The Case for International Perspectives, 1916-2016
AdvisorBruggeman, Seth C.
Committee memberLowe, Hilary I.
Sprinkle, John H.
Division of International Affairs
National Park Service
Office of International Affairs
Permanent link to this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12613/704
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AbstractIn 1916 the United States National Park Service (NPS) was founded to conserve the nation’s natural and cultural landscapes as well as “to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” While much historical analysis has been done by historians and the NPS on the agency’s national history, these scholars have ignored how the NPS was shaped by and contributed to an international history of national parks. Thus, this thesis addresses this historiographical gap and institutional forgetfulness by examining the agency’s Division of International Affairs (DIA). The DIA was established in 1961 by the NPS to foster international cooperation by building national parks overseas, which often advanced foreign policy containment initiatives in the developing world during the Cold War. Following the end of the Cold War, a significant decline in activity and staffing made it more difficult for the DIA to return to the pull of its influence just a decade or two earlier. In 1987 the DIA was renamed the Office of International Affairs (OIA) and has since suffered from many of its parent agency’s larger issues including a decline in staffing, funding, and a host of other issues that have compromised the NPS’s ability to meet its mission. As the NPS celebrates its centennial in 2016, I argue that examining the NPS’s history of international work challenges the agency to consider its past in new ways in the hopes that it reconfigure its mission and future to best meet the needs of its audiences in a globally connected twenty-first century world.
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