This book examines intellectual curiosity as the driving force in scholarly endeavor on the borderlands of geography, history, anthropology, and other disciplines. The premise is that curiosity is a salient trait of certain people past and present and that each field has its exemplars in this regard. For Carl O. Sauer (1889-1975), America's leading geographer of the twentieth century, and his intellectual descendants, the inquisitive spirit stood high on the list of indispensable scholarly attributes. Their curiosity-driven studies converging space, time, ecology, and culture involved a fluid and unpredictable process of intellectual discovery. This book, combining the empirical with the philosophical and reflexive, describes how the power of intrinsic motivation and the thread of a romantic consciousness blend with the joy of polymathic exploration.
Daniel W. Gade has an expansive curiosity about an intricate and diverse world that has led him to pursue fieldwork on four continents over four decades. Four books and more than a hundred articles and chapters have resulted from efforts to ferret out the many kinds of connections that tie humans, in their cultural and temporal settings, to the earth and its resources. His wide-ranging research interests have fallen under several rubrics: cultural-historical geography, environmental history, ethnobiology, cultural ecology, and biogeography. His PhD in geography is from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and research support has come from the National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council, two senior Fulbright research awards, and a Spanish government grant. In 1999 Gade was named University Scholar at the University of Vermont, where he is currently Emeritus Professor of Geography.