The National Park Service Centennial Essay Series


The NPS Centennial Essay Series was one of the George Wright Society's contributions to the 2016 centennial of the founding of the National Park Service.  The essay series encouraged serious reflection on critical park-related issues across the entire spectrum of cultural and natural resource disciplines.  The essays challenged the agency to re-examine its assumptions by bringing voices into the centennial conversation that represent a broad range of viewpoints, including those not traditionally part of the discourse on America’s national parks.

Launched in 2007, the series ran, one essay per issue, through August 2016, with a wrap-up retrospective in December 2016. The essays are available for download below.


December 2016
Final Centennial Thoughts
Dwight T. Pitcaithley and Rolf Diamant

August 2016
Second Sentence for a Second Century: Integrating the Mission of the National Park Service
Denis P. Galvin

April 2016
Worth and Value in 21st-Century Parks: The Critical Role of Public Financing
Duncan Morrow

December 2015
Holding Course
Michael Soukup

September 2015
The NPS Franchise: A Better Way to Protect Our Heritage
Holly Fretwell

May 2015
Planning for Permanent Emergency: “Triage” as a Strategy for Managing Cultural Resources Threatened by Climate Change
Michelle L. Berenfeld

December 2014
Making the Transition to the Third Era of Natural Resources Management
Nathan L. Stephenson

August 2014
Professionalism and its Discontents
Diane Barthel-Bouchier

April 2014
From Civil War to Civil Rights
Marty Blatt

December 2013
An Enlightened Beginning: The National Park Service and the American Latino Heritage
Joseph P. Sánchez and Angélica Sánchez-Clark

August 2013
Considerations of Culture, Community, Change, and the Centennial
M. Melia Lane-Kamahele

May 2013
NPS Design Tradition in the 21st Century
Ethan Carr

December 2012
What Should NPS Tell Visitors (and Congress) about Climate Change?
Philip Cafaro

August 2012
Beyond the 59th Park: Reforming the Nomenclature of the US National Park System
David Harmon

May 2012
The Park Idea as Catalyst and Conscience
George B. Hartzog III

December 2011
Revisiting the Organic Act: Can It Meet the Next Century’s Conservation Challenges?
Robert B. Keiter

May 2011
Projecting America’s Best Ideals: International Engagement and the National Park Service
Brent A. Mitchell

December 2010
This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land: People and Public Lands Redux
Carolyn Finney

August 2010
Whose America? Whose Idea? Making "America's Best Idea" Reflect New American Realities
John J. Reynolds

April 2010
An Idea in Trouble: Thoughts about the Future of Traditional National Parks in the United States
William C. Tweed

December 2009
Ethnography in a National Park Service Second Century
Jerry L. Rogers

August 2009
Diary for a Second Century: A Journey across America’s National Park System in Search of its Future
Rolf Diamant

April 2009
George Melendez Wright and the National Park Idea
Dayton Duncan

December 2008
Designing Ocean Parks for the Next Century
Gary E. Davis

July 2008
Reassessing the National Park Service and the National Park System
Janet A. McDonnell

April 2008
The National Park Service and Civic Engagement
Edward T. Linenthal

December 2007
Robin Winks on the Evolution and Meaning of the Organic Act
With an Afterword by Denis P. Galvin

July 2007
On the Brink of Greatness: National Parks and the Next Century
Dwight T. Pitcaithley

April 2007
Introduction to the Centennial Essay Series