By Brianne Fleming
For the Mirror
Penn State Altoona professor of history and environmental studies Brian Black has carried out his passion for publishing along with his teaching career.
Black recently served as one of three editors of a special issue of the Journal of American History, a leading scholarly journal in the field of American history.
This special issue of the journal, which discusses oil and the history of the United States, contains written historic pieces from 20 different scholars.
Black said after the summer 2010 oil spill occurred on the Gulf of Mexico, the journal decided something needed to be done to draw attention to the current and future petroleum problem.
Black said he is an environmental history specialist and studies the way nature and people interact over time.
His latest book "Crude Reality" was recently released at the end of March. He said it will be used as a textbook in history classes. It is the ninth book has has written or edited.
"It is very good in your career to publish things," Black said. "Basically it's part of our jobs to be active researchers and scholars."
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Penn State Altoona, Ken Wo-mack, said that Black is a part of the "tenure-line faculty," which means he is required to present and publish his findings in "scholarly periodicals and respected presses."
Womack said it is fairly common for professors to be published.
"I am happiest when there is a connection between what I'm writing and researching and what I'm teaching about," Black said. "I'm usually teaching the same things that I'm thinking about or researching about."
Black said he had students read his article and give him feedback before it was in the journal.
"It's a good experience for my students to read my work ahead of time," he said.
Black became interested in the subject of oil when he began writing his first book.
"I really began to think if history were explained it would help people get ready for a pending energy transition," he said. "History helps us a lot to understand."
He said he is trying to make people aware of how bad the petroleum situation could potentially become.
"My argument is that it is inevitable that petroleum will run out, and that sets us up for a very insecure future," Black said.
His article in the Journal of American History, "Oil for Living," stems from the book he is currently writing, Black said.
His next book "Declaring Our Dependence" is about petroleum in 20th century America.