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The Kansas Studies Institute at JCCC promotes research and teaching on the culture, history, economics and natural environment of Kansas.

Kansas Studies Institute, founded in 2009, fulfills its mission by collaborating with individuals and entities both at JCCC and throughout Kansas to expand our understanding of the state’s peoples, places, and landscape. Tai Edwards is the director.

Follow us on Instagram: @kansasstudiesinstitute

Looking ahead to Common Read

In 2020-2021, KSI is collaborating with the English Department to bring Sarah Smarsh, author of “Heartland,” to JCCC as part of the College's Common Read program. Programming will include Smarsh visiting our campus April 15-16, 2021.

Robinson Park project

Kansas Studies Institute is a collaborator on the Interchange grant project "Between the Rock and a Hard Place." This project is working with the community to reimagine Robinson Park in Lawrence, Kansas. The park is named for the state's first governor, Lawrence town founder, and Haskell Institute superintendent (a federal boarding school for Indigenous children). The park is also home to the "Big Red Rock" which is a glacial erratic pushed down to the Kansas River in the last ice age. This rock was/is sacred to the Kanza people though no mention of the Kanza people or the rock's history is included in the park.

Kansas Solar System App Project

KSI is coordinating a multi-disciplinary project where students are creating a to-scale version of the solar system that maps over the state of Kansas. Imagine driving on I-70 across the state and having this app tell you where you are in the solar system, when you reach the orbit of each planet/object, and the relative size and other interesting facts about each object. In spring 2020 students began designing, coding, researching, and writing the application. In the fall of 2020, students will complete the application. And we will launch the app for public use on Kansas Day, Jan. 29, 2021.


Some recent projects include:

Kansa, an earthwork by Stan Herd, was completed on the JCCC campus in April 2013
Kansa, an earthwork by Stan Herd, was completed on the JCCC campus in April 2013
  • Tai Edwards shared a Big Idea on the Humanities Kansas website: How Should We Honor Someone's Military Service?
  • Recording oral histories. This began with Vietnam-era veterans in “Kansas Stories of the Vietnam War” – a Humanities Kansas project. KSI has continued this work, recording oral histories with veterans of any era. KSI also partnered with Special Olympics Kansas on “Celebrating Inclusion Since 1970: A Special Olympics Kansas Oral History.”
  • Production assistance for Kansas-themed documentaries.
  • Hosting lectures on a variety of Kansas topics, such as depletion of the Ogallala aquifer, artistic representations of Kansas, and Quindaro Townsite preservation.
  • Commissioning and maintenance, including prairie burning, of Stan Herd’s “earthworks” installation titled Kansa, on the southwestern side of the JCCC campus.
  • Traveling with students and teaching coursework on the state.
  • Student internships involving a range of opportunities, including researching and designing installations in celebration of JCCC’s 50th anniversary; publishing peer-reviewed scholarship; and assisting in the Johnson County Trails Project that posts historic signage around the county’s hiking trails.
  • Annual programming on Kansas Day, Jan. 29 – the date Kansas became a state.

Much of this great work can be accessed through the Kansas Studies Institute digital archive, available through JCCC’s Billington Library and on the Kansas Studies Institute playlist on JCCC's YouTube channel.