YY at GC N RimYolonda Youngs, Ph.D. 

Associate Professor

Idaho State University, Department of Global Studies

Email: younyolo@isu.edu

  • 2009    Ph.D. in Geography, Arizona State University
  • 2004    M.S. in Earth Sciences (Geography), Montana State University
  • 1993    B. A. in Anthropology, Florida State University

I am a broadly trained geographer with research expertise in environmental and human geography, rural and urban landscapes, public lands, national & international parks and protected areas, sustainability & tourism, outdoor recreation, global studies, social science GIS, visual media & culture, and geographic field methods. My regional expertise is in the western United States, Europe, and World Regional.  


  • Environment and Geography 
  • World Regional Geography
  • Introduction to Cultural Geography
  • Conservation of Natural Resources
  • Geography of Outdoor Recreation
  • National Parks & International Protected Areas
  • Global Tourism & Sustainability
  • Geography of Europe
  • GIS for Social Sciences
  • Geographic Field Methods (senior capstone)
  • Introduction to Physical Geography

My recent work explores how historical and contemporary representations of the environment influence policy and management in parks and protected areas and shapes the impacts of tourism on local and regional communities. Through my research trajectory, I seek to better understand how multiple, often conflicting ideas and meanings of nature are contested, negotiated, and translated into natural resource management policies and outdoor recreation in public lands, and how this process can be traced through the medium of landscape. My scholarship and teaching integrates collaborative interdisciplinary approaches, geospatial and mobile technology, community engagement, place-based education and field techniques, and applied projects. I thrive in diverse and interdisciplinary teaching and research settings.

My publications include books, journal articles, book chapters, book reviews, and technical reports. My most recent book is The American Environment Revisited: Historical Environmental Geography of the United States (2018, with Geoffrey Buckley).  My current book project, Framing Nature: The Creation of an American Icon at the Grand Canyon (University of Nebraska Press), traces the arc of the national park idea and how people came to know the Canyon through a journey behind the scenes of popular imagery (postcards, photographs, and films).  Through this work I explore the cultural, social, and spatial process of creating a national park as an iconic place and how visual representations of the canyon shaped environmental conservation, park management, tourism, and cultural identity from 1869 to 2020.  I have published journal articles in the Geographical Review, Environmental History, and Society and Natural Resources: An International Journal as well as book chapters, book reviews, and technical reports.  

My research is funded by grants from the U.S. National Park Service (U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service), the Cooperative Ecosystems Studies Unit (CESU) national network, the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Idaho Humanities Council (IHC), and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). 

I am a passionate educator who strongly believes in a synergy between my scholarship and teaching. My teaching emphasizes active learning that encourages students to take ownership of their learning experiences and personalize their education to their intellectual needs and curiosities. [If a Map Could Talk newspaper story about my teaching]. To see a list of my courses and more about my teaching at Idaho State University, visit my Teaching page through the tab at the top of this page. 

My scholarly training is fortified by my doctoral work at Arizona State University’s Department of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning. At ASU, I was a Research Associate in the NSF funded IGERT in Urban Ecology program, a Preparing Future Faculty and Scholar (PFx), and a Research Assistant at the NSF funded Decision Center for a Desert City (DCDC),

Awards for my work include ISU Outstanding Researcher Award (2018), the Apple Inc. Distinguished Educator Award (for use of iPads in innovative teaching for the classroom and fieldwork), U.S. Scholar Award (International Cartographic Association), International Geographical Union Scholar Award, Lary Ford Fieldwork Award in Cultural Geography (Association of Pacific Coast Geographers), and the Carville Earle Award (Historical Geography Speciality group of the American Association of Geographers). I serve on the Editorial Board of Historical Geography, as a member of the Executive Council of the Association of Pacific Coast Geographers, and as the Director of the Nature, Culture, and Parks Research (NCPR) group at ISU. 

I am an active member in the American Association of Geographers (AAG), American Geographical Society (AGS), American Society of Environmental Historians (ASEH), Association of Pacific Coast Geographers (APCG), and the Royal Geographical Society (RGS -UK/London). I present my research regularly at national and international conferences, including the International Geographical Union (IGU), International Conference of Historical Geographers (ICHG), International Cartographic Association (ICA) conferences. 

To learn more about my scholarship, publications, teaching, and potential collaboration opportunities, please click on the tabs above.

I welcome new students interested in research projects along the themes of my work. Please email me directly to enquire about current openings.