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Carmichael Hall

Douglas J. Phillips

Ph.D., The University of Alabama, 1978. Higher Education Administration.

M.A., The University of Alabama, 1971. Educational Psychology.

B.S., The University of Alabama, 1968. Psychology.

Popularly called simply “Dr. Doug,” Doug Phillips is known widely for his adventurous travels in Alabama’s wildlands as creator, producer, and host of the Emmy award-winning public television program Discovering Alabama (for the “Alabama in Space” episode in 2010 and “State Archives” episode in 2019), an educational documentary series that has been bringing viewers the diverse natural wonders of Alabama for almost 40 years. 

Discovering Alabama reaches home audiences exceeding 1 million viewers and is used as an instructional resource in classrooms of every school system in the state. To date, Discovering Alabama has completed more than 100 documentaries on all aspects of Alabama’s natural diversity – forests, rivers, wetlands, wildlife, geology, and more.

Discovering Alabama, the longest-running and most popular locally produced show on Alabama Public Television (APT), appeared in Alabama homes and classrooms in 1985, when Dr. Doug Phillips first invited viewers to “Come along with me as we explore the wild wonders of this land.”

As an environmental educator for the Alabama Museum of Natural History, he knew that the natural world could bridge the disciplines for a cross-curriculum approach to teaching. He also realized that Alabama Public Television, the first statewide educational network in the nation, would be the perfect vehicle for sharing the state’s natural history and natural wonders.

Discovering Alabama programs correlate with the Alabama Course of Study and, with accompanying Teacher Guides, support the teaching of K-12 academic requirements for science, history, social studies, geography, and environmental education. The show is rated by teachers as the educational resource “most frequently used” in Alabama schools and can be found in classrooms of all school systems in the state.

Phillips worked with Troy State University and continued to develop the program with grant funding from Mobil Oil and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. He eventually returned to The University of Alabama under the Alabama Museum of Natural History. 

Currently, Discovering Alabama is jointly produced by the museum and the University, in cooperation with the Alabama Center for Public Television and Radio. Additional sponsors have included the Alabama Wildlife Federation. 

In addition to producing Discovering Alabama, Dr. Phillips developed many environmental education curricula for Alabama schools, including the “Discovering Alabama Model School Program.” He has pioneered many conservation programs to protect Alabama lands and waters, including the nationally recognized land trust the Alabama Forever Wild program. More than two decades after its establishment by constitutional amendment in 1992, the Forever Wild Land Trust (FWLT) has secured more than 284,000 acres of land in Alabama for public use.

He also authored the award-winning books Discovering Alabama Wetlands and Discovering Alabama Forests, together with the supplementary Teacher Guides for each of the Discovering Alabama documentaries. 

Today, Discovering Alabama is considered the “flagship program” about Alabama and, proudly, it is a home-grown success produced right here in the Tuscaloosa community.