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- Assistant Professor
- Environmental History
- American West, Outdoor Recreation, Tourism, Public Lands
- University of Nevada, Las Vegas
- Colorado State University
- Western State College
Dr. Childers is an Assistant Professor in the History Department at Colorado State specializing in the modern American West and the environment – interests he developed while growing up in Colorado’s Fraser Valley. Located along the Continental Divide, the valley arguably one of the coldest places in the lower 48, a point of pride among its longtime residents. Beyond suffering subfreezing temperatures, Childers spent much of his childhood exploring the valley’s peaks, challenging the local library to keep up with his reading habit, and skiing. The combination of which led him to Western State College where he majored in history and hard work. He then attended Colorado State University, earning a masters degree in European history. (His current office was his advisor Ken Rock’s at the time). After bumming around the state for seven years, Childers made his way to the University of Las Vegas. Completing his PhD in American History in 2010, he has since taught at Northern Arizona University, the University of Northern Iowa, and now at CSU.
His first book, Colorado Powder Keg: Ski Resorts and the Environmental Movement (University Press of Kansas, 2012), discussed the history of Colorado’s ski industry and the emergence of the postindustrial West, where mountains became more valuable as ski resorts than as rangelands. The book was awarded the International Ski History Association's Ullr Award, and was runner up for the Western Writers of America's Spur Award in 2013.
He is currently writing his second book, “The Mountains are Calling Tourists and the Unmaking of Yosemite National Park,” examining the park’s history through visitors’ own experiences, as well as the environmental costs of tourism.
Much of his teaching focuses on the environment and tourism, including courses on the history of outdoor recreation, world environmental history, and American environmental history. He remains a dedicated Denver Broncos fan and unapologetic telemark skier.
Additionally, Childers the co-series editor with his wife and colleague Dr. Leisl Carr Childers for the University of Oklahoma Press’ Environment in Modern North America book series.
Colorado Powder Keg: Ski Resorts and the Environmental Movement, Lawrence: University Press of Kansas. October 2012. Winner of the International Ski History Association 2013 Ullr Award for single outstanding contribution to the historical record in book form and Western Writers of America Spur Award 2013 Finalist for Best Western Nonfiction Contemporary book.
“A Gateway into the Mountains: Denver and the Rise of a Recreation Empire,” in Denver Inside and Out (Colorado History, vol. 16). Denver: History Colorado, The Colorado Historical Society. 2012. Colorado Book Award Finalist. 95-104.
“The Stoneman Meadow Riots and Law Enforcement in Yosemite National Park,” in Forest History Today (Spring/Fall 2017), 30-37.
“For Public Use, Resort, and Recreation: The Struggle Over Appropriate Recreation in Yosemite,” George Wright Forum (November) Volume 35, Number 2.
“Colorado’s Ski Industry,” in The Colorado Encyclopedia Edited by William Wei. Denver: Colorado Humanities. 2017, http://coloradoencyclopedia.colostate.edu/.
“The National Parks,” in Encyclopedia of Populism in America, Edited by Alexandra Kindell and Elizabeth Sherburn Demers. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2014. 447-449.
“The Mountains are Calling: Tourists and the Unmaking of Yosemite National Park,” book manuscript under contract with the University of Nevada Press. (In Progress).
“Rothman’s West: The Education of a Western Public Intellectual,” Western Lands, Western Voices: The American West Center’s 50th Anniversary Essay Collection, University of Utah Press (Submitted).
“Revisiting the Best Idea We Ever Had,” Wallace Stegner Symposium Anthology, University of Oklahoma Press (Submitted).
"Illustrating Yosemite: Steven Johnson's Illustrations and the Sierra Club Narrative of the National Parks," Environmental History (In Progress).
“Remaking Sun Valley: Condominiums, Sprawl, and the New Ski Resort,” Forest History Today (Submitted).
HIST 355 American Environmental HistorySyllabus
Renowned historian Elliott West once noted, “Environmental history is, among other things, a lengthy account of human beings imagining themselves into a serious pickle.” While West was right in one aspect, in truth, environmental history is a bit more complicated. This course tackles the many ways historians have come to understand America’s past through its environment. Approaching the topic thematically rather than chronologically, students will delve deeper into how people in the past understood, used, and reimaged the environment around them in shaping their world.
HIST 512 – U.S. Since 1877 Reading SeminarSyllabus
This reading seminar serves as an introduction to contemporary trends in American historiography, focusing from 1877 to present. Course readings focus on the three themes of race, capitalism, and environment, all of which have challenged and built upon previous interpretations of 20th century American History. Students will read recent and discuss the various methodologies, theoretical frameworks, and topics used by this diverse array of historians. In doing so, students are expected to reinforce their knowledge of modern American history, learn various approaches to history, and explore possibilities of how they can approach their own historical inquiry.
HIST 481A – History of Outdoor RecreationSyllabus
From skiing to fishing, outdoor recreation has come to define how American’s interact with and understand nature. This course will explore the history of outdoor recreation in American History, tracing its global roots, its production and management by governmental agencies, controversies surrounding various forms of recreation, and role in defining the region’s environmental history.
HIST 492 – Water in the American WestSyllabus
Water defines the American West. We play in it, drink it, and water the lawns with it. Yet, it is scarce, leading to questions of how we use tis limited yet essential resource, and who gets to decide. Based upon CSU’s Water Resources Archive, this capstone will trace water’s central role in the shaping the region’s history over the past two hundred years, training students how to both conduct original research and think historically. This course is divided into three units, each will walk students the history of water in the region as well as historical methodology and writing. Course readings will focus on both the history of water as well as historical methodology.