The Center for Great Plains Studies is an interdisciplinary intercollegiate program administered in the College of Arts and Sciences.  Its goal is to foster the study of human cultural development in the sparsely populated environment of the Great Plains. A region with highly variable weather set against grassy, rolling land, the Great Plains stretches westward from the Missouri River to the Rocky Mountains, and northward from the Texas Panhandle into the Canadian plains provinces. Central to the major is the study of the interplay of environment, history, and culture in the region.

Why study Great Plains Studies at UNL?

This program has the only undergraduate major in Great Plains Studies in the United States. A major or minor in Great Plains Studies will be a useful program of study for students who want to understand the unique nature of the region and it’s relation to agriculture, business, education, history, marketing, planning, policy analysis, politics, or public relations.  Because of its diverse nature, the major draws from departments throughout the College of Arts and Sciences as well as other colleges at NU. Courses that comprise the program are based in the departments of African American & African Studies, Agricultural Economics, Agronomy, Anthropology, Architecture, Art and Art History, Biological Sciences, Communication Studies, Community and Regional Planning, Economics, English, Environmental Studies, Ethic Studies, Geography, Geosciences, Global Studies, History, Latin American Studies, Modern Languages & Literatures, Music, Native American Studies, Political Science, Sociology, and Women’s & Gender Studies.


Dr. Charles A. Braithwaite
1155 Q Street, Room 504 Hewit Place


Students in the major and minor take GPSP 170 Introduction to Great Plains Studies (3 cr), and GPSP 400 Seminar in Great Plains Studies (3 cr), and at least one course in each of the four categories: human heritage, natural environment, social environment, and arts and humanities, for a total of 12 hours. The remaining 12 hours can be taken from other courses listed under these categories, from at-large courses, or as independent study and internships.

Working with the Chief Adviser, courses are chosen in such a way as to construct a thematically or professionally coherent program. Other courses or independent study may be substituted for some of the courses listed.

Major/Minor Requirements
Undergraduate Courses

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Plains Song Review

An interdisciplinary literary journal that explores a sense of place in the Great Plains through fiction, poetry, nonfiction essays and photographs and graphic literature of emerging and established writers and artists. The Editor of Plains Song Review is an undergraduate at UNL, and a selected student editorial board acts as peer reviewers of submitted work. Students involved in Plains Song Review can earn internship credit which can be applied toward the major or minor.InternshipsInternships related to the Great Plains are eligible to earn GPSP 495 credit (up to 6 credit hours per semester). Past interns have worked in the Great Plains Art Gallery, Homestead National Monument, Great Plains Film Festival, and senate and congressional offices.

Financial Aid

Check with the undergraduate adviser for more information.


A major or minor in Great Plains Studies will be useful for students who plan careers in regionally based businesses, education, government, public service, event planning, tourism, and  in archival or historical centers. Former majors have gone on to advanced degrees, politics, started regional businesses, and found employment in the National Park Service, the University of Nebraska, Public Television, National Public Radio, and various private and public museums and libraries.

Online Courses

Great Plains Studies offers online courses which are cross-listed with several other departments:

GPSP 377 –
Women of the Great Plains

Who is a woman of the Great Plains? Such a question frequently conjures up an inaccurately conventional image of a female with specific characteristics regarding her race, class, ethnicity, and religion as well as the place and time in which she lived. This 3-credit, on-line course examines gender throughout time and space in the American and Canadian Great Plains. Various disciplines—such as anthropology, geography, and history–inform explorations of gender in relation to topics such as the environment, popular culture, and violence.

GPSP 378 – Cultural Encounters on the Great Plains

This is a 3-credit, upper-division interdisciplinary course focusing on the interaction of the diverse cultures that have immigrated and migrated to the Great Plains. We will study instances of first contact between Native people and European cultures, the movement west by Euro-American and non-European cultures, and post-settlement intercultural relations. Additionally, we will examine the impact of contemporary cultural contact among the diverse people of the Plains.