Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Science, Technology and Society Program


James R. Fleming

Second Advisor

Loren E. McClenachan


In 2000, atmospheric chemist, Paul J. Crutzen, and limnologist, Eugene Stoermer, formally proposed the idea of “the Anthropocene,” a new geologic epoch in which humans are the dominant force shaping the Earth. To claim the Anthropocene's existence is to declare that human actions have altered the Earth in such a way that geologic indicators render it a distinct epoch in the stratification of geologic time. This new epoch emerges as a consequence of increased technological development employed to accommodate an anthropocentric human existence. That is, rapid advancements in technology have driven the transformation from a primarily naturally controlled planet to an artificially dominated one, as landscapes became irreversibly transformed, species hunted to extinction, and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations amplified to unprecedented levels. Society essentially operates under an unsustainable cultural paradigm. The American conservation movement was therefore a direct response to the Anthropocene. National parks are some of the best known and valued conservation areas in the United States, integrating humans into the natural world by way of recreation and education. As such, they serve as effective vehicles for addressing the Anthropocene and presenting the concept to the public. This work examines Maine’s Acadia National Park in the context of the Anthropocene, maintaining that this new epoch does, indeed, exist at present. By analyzing Acadia’s past and present, I illustrate how the park can effectively communicate the Anthropocene to its broader audience in order to shift the cultural paradigm from an ethos of domestication to an ethos of stewardship.


Anthropocene, conservation, national park service, Acadia National Park, cultural paradigm