July 22 – 28, 2012 Location: University of Colorado, Boulder Seminars


Patricia Nelson Limerick, Professor of History, 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.

Please find below important information regarding The American Environment in Historical Perspective.


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

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

Merchant, Carolyn. Major Problems in American Environmental History, 2nd ed. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2006.

Steinberg, Ted. Down to Earth: Nature’s Role in American History, 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.

Travel & Accomodations

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. An identikey will be provided to access the wireless Internet service in the residence hall and meeting rooms.

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

Each summer seminar participant will receive reimbursement of travel expenses up to $400. Participants are responsible for making their own travel arrangements to and from the seminar.

Participants traveling internationally or from Alaska and Hawaii receive a $500 stipend in lieu of reimbursement upon completion of the seminar.

Applicants to seminars should note that supplements will not be given in cases where the $400 allowance is insufficient to cover all travel expenses.

Our reimbursement policy has changed from previous years. For more information on our policy click here.

Graduate credit

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is proud to announce its agreement with Adams State College to offer three hours of graduate credit in American history to participating seminar teachers.

Teachers are required to submit a reaction paper and a copy of one primary source activity completed during or immediately after the seminar.

Teachers will also be given an opportunity to take additional online and distance coursework that counts toward an MA in History from Adams State College.

Enroll and learn more about the course.
For more details, please contact: Edward R. Crowther, Ph.D.

To ensure that your credit appears on your transcript as summer-term class work, you must enroll by August 3, 2012.


E-mail the Teacher Seminars department or call 646-366-9666.



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