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Patricia Nelson Limerick, Faculty Director and Chair of the Board, Center of the American West, University of Colorado, Boulder


This seminar uses focused case studies to explore the larger picture of environmental history, a subject that has grown increasingly complex as historians deepen their understanding of the vast role of “anthropogenic change” (also known as “history”!) in reconfiguring the places and processes we think of as “natural.” Much of the seminar explores the transformation of attitudes, from the assessment of North American landscapes and resources by early settlers to the recognition of the changing “baseline” of global warming, along with a reconsideration—and revision—of the usual polarity pitting utilitarian approaches in opposition to preservationist approaches to the management of nature. With guest speakers drawn from the University of Colorado’s widely respected environmental studies program, the roles of naturalists and scientists in shaping American thinking about nature will receive particular attention, as will changes in the production and consumption of energy, a fundamental matter in environmental history. The concluding field trip to Rocky Mountain National Park gives the themes of the lectures and discussions a down-to-earth grounding in a visit to one of the most popular units in the nation’s public lands, while close attention to John McPhee’s Encounters with the Archdruid provides a framework for drawing lessons from the past to enhance the quality of contemporary environmental decision-making.


Readings are sent by the Institute to seminar participants. Readings may include:

McPhee, John. Encounters with the Archdruid. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1977.

Course Reader

Travel & Accommodations

The closest airport to the university is Denver (DIA). Driving time between DIA and Boulder is approximately sixty to ninety minutes. The DIA website provides web links and phone numbers for commuter shuttles, taxis, and rental cars.

The University of Colorado website has driving directions and maps of the campus.

Workshop participants will be housed in on-campus residence halls. Residence halls are not air conditioned and there are no phones in guest rooms. Participants will have single bedrooms but will share bathrooms and common space on each floor. A guest ID will be provided to access the wireless Internet service in the residence hall and meeting rooms. Participants should plan to bring laptops, as computer access on campus will be limited.

The university provides sheets, bedspreads, towels, and pillows. Please note that participants should plan to bring a cell phone, fan, shower shoes, alarm clock, shampoo, hangers, irons, hair dryers, etc. Participants will have access to computer clusters, but many choose to bring laptops and ethernet cords.


Meals will be served in a university cafeteria in space shared by other programs. All on-campus meals will be paid for by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

Travel Reimbursement

Participants are responsible for making their own travel arrangements to and from the seminar. Each seminar participant will receive reimbursement of travel expenses up to $400. Please read our complete travel reimbursement policy before applying.

Graduate Credit

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is proud to announce its agreement with Adams State University to offer three hours of graduate credit in American history to participating seminar teachers. For more information click here.

Course Reviews from Summer 2013 Participants

“Amazing experience in all factors; I couldn’t believe the caliber of expertise, professionalism, and collegiality of the lead scholar (Dr. Patricia Nelson Limerick), guest lecturers (too numerous to name, all excellent), and master teacher. The optional hikes and field trip made for a well-balanced program and a great experience; the UC Boulder accommodations were top notch.”

“I had an excellent first seminar experience; Patricia Limerick is a fascinating presenter, has an amazing amount of knowledge and experience to share, the other guest lecturers were very good, and we really enjoyed working and interacting with the master teacher too. I learned so much and have already shared some of that with my AP environmental teachers and will be sharing more as our school year begins. Thank you!”


Email the Teacher Seminars department or call 646-366-9666.

July 20th, 2014 5:00 PM   through   July 26th, 2014 9:00 AM
University of Colorado, Boulder
Boulder, CO
United States

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Seminar Fee
Attending $50.00
Not Attending $0.00

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