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College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Department of History

Degree Programs

Faculty & Staff

William Philpott

Assistant Professor
Sturm Hall 360
Phone: 303-871-2956
Email: [email protected]


Environmental history; American West; 20th-century U.S.


Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2002


My teaching and research passions lie in the field of environmental history -- the history of people's interaction with the nonhuman world. That includes everything from the history of energy, eating, and resource use to "natural" disasters and the spread of "invasive" species; from the ever-complicated politics of property and environmental protection to the rich history of cultural ideas about nature and humans' place in it. And much, much more.

I grew up in Colorado, and so did my fascination for the past, with stories of gold rushes and ghost towns. My first book, a labor history titled _The Lessons of Leadville, or, Why the Western Federation of Miners Turned Left_, sprang from this youthful interest. My forthcoming book, _Vacation Land: Tourism and Environmental Transformation in the High Country_, is also rooted in my home state. Using the case of Colorado's high country, _Vacation Land_ explores how post-1945 tourism and recreational consumerism remade American landscapes -- and in the process, reshaped the environmental values of people living, working, and vacationing there.

I claim Midwestern ties too, having earned my Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and taught for years at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois. While at Wisconsin I co-authored and co-edited a guide to the Badger State's historic buildings and built landscapes. Here at DU I will be teaching a wide range of courses in North American environmental history, the history of Colorado and the West, the twentieth-century U.S., and hopefully also the new sustainability studies major.