Academia

My experience as both a public and an academic historian has allowed me to develop a wide-ranging perspective on the craft of history. In 2004 I formally ended a brief but rewarding career as an Associate Professor of History and Chair of American Studies at Knox College in Illinois, where my scholarship and teaching focused on comparative and cross-disciplinary approaches to U.S. environmental, western, American Indian, and Latin American subjects. My departure from Knox had nothing to do with the college or the security of my position; it was entirely based on family priorities and the need to move back to Oregon. Since returning to the Willamette Valley, I have crafted a new career as a public historian, a consultant, and a visiting professor in the Oregon University System.

 

Whether in publications for academic presses and government agencies, or in public presentations, my

work reflects an abiding interest in the contested meanings and purposes that different peoples give to

symbolically charged landscapes. My first book examined American ideas about wilderness and the

policies of Indian removal developed and maintained at Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Glacier National

Parks. A blend of cultural, environmental, and public policy history, the book also explored the changing

significance of these national park areas to different Native groups as well as the cultural and

constitutional implications of their dispossession. Before leaving academia, I had shifted my attention to

a number of new topics, including analyses of tourism and localism in the twentieth-century American

West, cultural identity and environmental preservation in Mexico, the United States and Canada, and

the conflation of nature, nation, and history in commemorations of the Lewis and Clark expedition.

 

All of my professional work has been sustained by a passionate commitment to the public efficacy of academic scholarship. This was true of my dissertation some 20 years ago, and remains central to my work as a consultant, public speaker, educator, and public historian. It certainly informs my work for the National Park Service, which draws on a wide range of academic disciplines to situate national parks and the agency as a whole within a full array of cultural, environmental, and historical contexts.