I am a United States historian who specializes in the regional study of public lands in the American West using environmental history and various categories of public history. In my scholarship and public projects, I seek to better understand the relationship between public lands and the people that use and/or manage them. Sometimes considered wastelands, sometimes wilderness, public lands serve a unique role in the national landscape. Their use and management – whether through grazing cattle, weapons testing, wildlife management, outdoor recreation, and wild horse preservation – reflects Americans’ attitudes about nature and the environment, and embodies their expectations of the federal government.
Raised at the western edge of the Mojave Desert, I have resided in many places throughout the American West, including at the feet of the Sierra Nevada, along the Wasatch Front and Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, on the Colorado Plateau, in the Great Basin, and now in the Midwest’s tall grass prairie region. I have also lived in Germany along the Main River and have even spent a little time on the Cape Peninsula in South Africa. For me, an understanding of place through experience is fundamental to our understanding of the past.
2011 PhD in History from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada
2005 MA in History from Pepperdine University, Malibu, California
1993 BA in History from Pepperdine University, Malibu, California
2018-Present Assistant Professor, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
2013-2018 Assistant Professor, Northern Iowa University, Cedar Falls, IA
2011-2013 Visiting Assistant Professor, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ
- 2017-Present Co-Editor, The Environment in Modern North American Series at the University of Oklahoma Press
- 2016-Present Co-Editor, Book Reviews, Environmental History
The Size of the Risk: Histories of Multiple Use in the Great Basin. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2015.
Winner of the Western Writers of America 2016 Spur Award in Contemporary Nonfiction.
Funding provided by:
- Charles Redd Center for Western Studies Publication Award ($3000), Spring 2015 and Summer Award ($1500), Summer 2007
- University of Northern Iowa, College of Social and Behavioral Science Project Grant ($1000), Spring 2015 and New Faculty Research Grant ($5778), Summer 2014
- University of Nevada, Las Vegas, President’s Fellow ($20,000), 2009-2010 and Hal K. Rothman Doctoral History Graduate Student Award ($7000), 2007-2008
- Craig A. Johnson, Pacific Historical Review (May 2017): 348-349.
- David Rich Lewis, Environmental History (April 2017): 369-370.
- Sara M. Gregg, Journal of American History (March 2017): 1065-1066.
- Diane L. Ahmad, Agricultural History (Winer 2017): 114-115.
- Joseph Taylor, III, Utah State Historical Quarterly (Winter 2017): 97-98.
- Aaron McArthur, The Public Historian (August 2016): 206-207.
- James R. Skillen, American Historical Review (June 2016): 968.
- John Freemuth, Montana The Magazine of Western History (Spring 2016): 81-82.
- Wendell Cox, CHOICE: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries (May 2016): 1379.
- Philip Garone, H-Environment (April, 2016): http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=45878.
- Greg Smoak, Western Historical Quarterly (Winter 2016): 505-506.
- “The Size of the Risk: Histories of Multiple Use in the Great Basin,” Wallace Stegner Center for Land Resources and the Environment, February 23, 2017, Salt Lake City, UT 2016
- “Making Sense of Mustang, Mushroom Clouds, and the Meaning of Public Lands” Charles Redd Center for Western Studies, October 6, 2016, Provo, UT 2016
- “Sizing Up Public Lands in the Sagebrush State,” Lied Library Special Collections, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, April 22, 2016, Las Vegas, NV 2008
BOOK ESSAYS PUBLISHED
- “The Angry West: Understanding the Sagebrush Rebellion in Rural Nevada,” in Bridging the Distance: Common Issues in the Rural West. David Danbom, editor. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2015. 269-315.
- “Incident at Galisteo: The 1955 Teapot Series and the Mental Landscape of Contamination,” in Proving Grounds: Testing, Militarized Landscapes, and the Environmental Consequences of American Empire. Ed Martini, editor. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2015. 75-110.
- “In My Cowgirl Boots,” in Cowgirl by Nancy Davidson. New York: Daylight Books, 2015. 10-13.
- Coauthored work with Bettina Fabos. “Digital Literacy, Public History, and
Fortepan Iowa,” in Media Education for a Digital Generation. Julie Frechette and Rob Williams, editors. New York: Routledge, 2015. 244-260.
- “Every Mine, Every Cow Path, Every Ranch Near the Nevada Test Site: Oral History as Fieldwork,” in Oral History, Community, and Work in the American West. Jessie Embry, editor. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2013. 284-304.
- “The Federal Government Can’t Manage Them Alone,” in “Up For Debate: Should Federal Lands Be transferred to Western States,” PERC Reports (Summer 2017): 8.
- “Gallery: Leisl Carr Childers on the Gus Bundy Photographs and the Wild Horse Controversy,” Environmental History, July 2013: 604-620.
- “National Parks as a Vehicle for Understanding Complexity,” Journal of the West, Summer 2012: 62-83.
- “Field Notes: Black-Light Shows and the National Finals Rodeo: Curating Gene Autry’s Cowboy Spectacle,” Western Historical Quarterly, August 2010: 353-361.
- “The National Finals Rodeo: Evolution of an Urban Entertainment Phenomenon,” Nevada Historical Society Quarterly, Winter 2008: 267-291.
- “Rationalizing the Cold War Home Front,” Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Technology and Society Magazine, Fall 2008: 13-18.
- “Disturbing Conclusions,” in “What Happens Now That the Bundy Trial is
Over?,” BlogWest.org, January 10, 2018.
- “Following the Money in the West,” BlogWest.org, January 10, 2017.
- “Thanksgiving Reflections on Standing Rock,” BlogWest.org, November 23, 2016.
- “A Disappeared Resource,” BlogWest.org, October 5, 2016.
- “Essential Reading on the Incidents at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge,” BlogWest.org, January 10, 2016.
- “Cliven Bundy Revisited,” BlogWest.org, January 4, 2016.
- “Understanding Cliven Bundy,” BlogWest.org, April 21, 2014.
- “In Case You Missed It … Street Art on the Navajo Nation,” BlogWest.org,
November 23, 2012.
- “The American West in Three Dimensions,” BlogWest.org, November 23, 2012.
- “The West Against Itself: The Keynote Address at the First Western History Association Conference,” BlogWest.org, October 3, 2012.
I have had the privilege of dialoging with several journalists on stories related to public lands management and occasionally have been featured in their work. To date, my work has appeared in the following journalistic publications and programs.
- Jim Dalrymple II, “Trump’s Latest Pardons Could Fan Anti-Government Anger In The Rural West,” BuzzFeed News, July 10, 2018
- Leah Sottile,“Bundyville,” Longreads and Oregon Public Radio, May 2018
- Joe Schoenmann, “UNR Professor Argues Wild Horses Hurting Nevada’s Ecosystem,” KNPR State of Nevada, February 13, 2018
- Rachel Layman, “The Great American Road Trip, Part I,” Episode 7, out•LAND•ish: Voices from Your Public Lands Podcast, September 28, 2017
- Abby Ellis, “American Patriot,” PBS Frontline, May 16, 2017
- Joe Schoenmann, “Will the Wild Horses be Dragged Away?,” KNPR State of Nevada, April 13, 2017
- Tay Wiles, “How Ryan Bundy Sees the West,”High Country News, February 20, 2017
- Tay Wiles, “What to Read to Prepare for the Bundy Trial,” High Country News, February 6, 2017
- Leah Sottile, “A Year Ago, Armed Occupiers Seized a Wildlife Refuge in Harney County. This Oregonian Was Ready to Join,” Portland Monthly, 1/23/2017
- Tay Wiles, “Federal-lands Ranching: A Half-Century of Decline,” High Country
News, June 13, 2016
- Public Lands History Center
- American Society for Environmental History
- National Council on Public History
- Public Lands Foundation
- Western History Association
Leisl Carr Childers, Ph.D.
Department of History
Colorado State University