P.P. Karan's Lecture Celebrates 60 Years of Teaching at UK

By Gail Hairston

Geography Professor P.P. Karan will deliver a lecture, “Half a century in the Himalayas,” followed by a reception in honor of the 60 years he has been with the University of Kentucky.

Part of the UK College of Arts and Sciences' Passport to the WorldYear of South Asia initiative, Karan’s lecture and reception are slated 5-7:30 p.m. Monday, May 1, in Room 219 of The 90.

A frequent visitor to Japan, China and India for research and speaking engagements, Karan has been teaching in the UK College of Arts and Sciences Department of Geography for more than 60 years, since 1956. He is a professor of human geography, directs the Indian Studies Program, is a professor in the UK Japan Studies Program, and teaches in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages, Literatures and Cultures.

His current research includes planning for reconstruction and rebuilding in Japan after the devastating earthquake and tsunami of 2011, transformation of the Himalayan landscape during the last half century, and changing nature-society relationships on Tibetan plateau.

Karan has been involved in a range of initiatives aimed at understanding and utilizing the connections between economic development and the environment for more than 40 years. Over the last quarter of a century, he initiated an array of schemes and local movements to promote development, environmental protection and cultural preservation in India, Japan and Himalayan states. Focusing on research that blurs the boundaries between social science and humanities, he continues to seek fresh ways of preserving environment and local cultures. 

He is the co-editor and author of “Local Environmental Movements: A Comparative Study of Japan and the United States” (2009) and co-author and editor of "The Indian Ocean Tsunami: Response and Challenge" published by University Press of Kentucky, and author of several books on Asian countries including the “Non-Western World: Environment, Development and Human Rights” published by Routledge.

Karan was born in Gaya, India, a few miles from the site where Buddha attained enlightenment over 2,500 years ago. He attended local public schools in Bihar state when India was still part of the British Empire. He graduated with honors in economics and earned a master's degree in geography at Banaras Hindu University and a doctoral degree from Indiana University. He has taught at several universities in the United States, Europe, Russia, Japan and India. He also worked for international development agencies in the Himalayas.

UK Libraries and University Press of Kentucky are also recognizing Karan this spring. "Sixty Years of Scholarship: The Works of P.P. Karan" is an exhibit on display at William T. Young Library honoring the work of the professor during his time as a faculty member in the Department of Geography at UK. The exhibit also features a selection of his books published over the years along with biographical information and the book jackets from his seven University Press of Kentucky publications. A bibliography of Karan's books and journal articles is available and a webpage with more detailed information about the geographer and his research has been developed. The exhibit and webpage, created by library science graduate student Brad Allard, an intern at Young Library, will remain up until June 15 in the library’s atrium.

UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: uky.edu/uk4ky. #uk4ky #seeblue


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