Historians to the Rescue: Putting the Past to Work to Counter Today's Polarization

  • 14 Nov 2017
  • 11:45 AM - 1:15 PM
  • Brown Palace 321 17th St.

Registration is closed

Please join City Club of Denver in welcoming Patty Limerick, Colorado State Historian.


Coloradans reckoning with the legacies we have received from the past face a choice: follow a national trend of fighting fiercely about clashing interpretations of history OR put history to work in problem-solving. With a few surprisingly easy modifications in the customs of recruiting and training young historians, universities and colleges could deliver a lasting benefit to society, fighting amnesia and replacing conflict with a deeper understanding of human conduct over time.

BIO

Widely known as an energetic, funny, and engaging public speaker and frequent Op-Ed contributor, Patty Limerick is Colorado State Historian and Faculty Director and Chair of the Board of the Center of the American West at the University of Colorado, where she is also a Professor of History. A co-founder of the Center in 1986, it has been her primary point of affiliation since 1995. Patty has dedicated her career to bridging the gap between academics and the general public and demonstrating the benefits of applying historical perspective to contemporary dilemmas and conflicts. Under her leadership, the Center serves as a forum for the civil, respectful, problem-solving exploration of important, often contentious, public issues by appealing to our common loyalties and hopes as Westerners.

A regular contributor to Op-Ed pages including those of the Denver Post and the New York Times, Patty is also a prolific essayist and book author. Her published works include The Legacy of Conquest, an overview and reinterpretation of Western American history that generated much debate, 2012’s A Ditch in Time: The City, the West, and Water, a history of water in Denver, and a collection of her works titled Something in the Soil. During her tenure, the Center has additionally issued books and reports including What Every Westerner Should Know About Energy (2003) and Cleaning Up Abandoned Hardrock Mines in the West (2006), as well as producing a PBS film, The Lover’s Guide to the West, aimed at counseling the public on its “troubled relationship with fossil fuels.” Current projects include a book about the role of the Department of Interior in the West, based on first-hand interviews.

Patty has received a number of awards and honors, including the MacArthur Fellowship (1995 to 2000) and the Hazel Barnes Prize, CU’s highest award for teaching and research (2001). In January 2016, the year she was appointed Colorado State Historian, she was also named to the National Endowment for the Humanities’ advisory board, the National Council on the Humanities. She has twice served as a Pulitzer Nonfiction jurist and chaired the 2011 Pulitzer jury in History; she serves on several boards and regularly advises documentary and film projects.

Born and raised in Banning, California, Patty graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1972 and earned a Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale in 1980. She taught at Harvard before relocating to Boulder in 1984 to join the History Department at CU, where she was promoted to tenured Full Professor in 1991.


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