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Environmental history focus of Morgan endowed chair

November 15, 2010

Mark Fiege, associate professor of history, holds the William E. Morgan Chair. The endowed chair has enabled him to pursue intellectual and professional goals, including to finish a large book on the environmental history of the United States.

Liberal arts spirit, land-grant mission

Mark Fiege, associate professor of history, at the homestead site at Lory State Park. The park used to be a working ranch and the stone path is all that is left of the original homestead.

Fiege explains the significance of the Chair to his work in environmental history: “I’m grateful for the William E. Morgan Chair in Liberal Arts because it has enabled me to pursue intellectual and professional goals that are in the liberal arts spirit and that further the land-grant mission of Colorado State University in research, teaching, and service.

Book 10 years in the making

“Support from the Morgan Chair has helped me to finish a large book, some 10 years in the making, on the environmental history of the United States. My purpose in this project has been to apply the methods of environmental history to mainstream topics such as the Declaration of Independence, Abraham Lincoln, or the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision.

How past Americans understood nature

If we can reintegrate the study of people and nature in a manner that  has been lost since the 19th century – if we can understand how past Americans understood nature as the basis of politics, war, social issues, and the most noble of ideals – then we will be better equipped to confront the issues, environmental and otherwise, of our own time.

The book is forthcoming from the University of Washington Press in late 2011.

Stewardship of nation's cultural, natural heritage

“The Morgan Chair also has helped me to work with colleagues and a former graduate student to create the Public Lands History Center, which works on externally funded research projects in support of public institutions. Most of our projects have centered on national parks such as Rocky Mountain, Zion, or Grant Kohrs.

All of the projects have involved teams of faculty affiliates and students working in collaboration with public officials on problems related to the stewardship of the nation’s cultural and natural heritage. The center and some of its affiliates are now planning a scholarly colloquium on the relationship of U.S. national parks to national parks in other countries; the Morgan Chair has been crucially important in helping us to launch this ambitious project.”

Originally published in the Colleges of Liberal Arts newsletter, Fall 2010.