Associate Professor


  • Find Me On:

  • Website:
  • Office Hours:

    Tuesday 1 - 2:30
  • Role:

  • Position:

    • Associate Professor
    • Undergraduate Coordinator
  • Concentration:

    • Environmental History
    • American West, Outdoor Recreation, Tourism, Public Lands
  • Department:

    • History
  • Education:

    • University of Nevada, Las Vegas
    • Colorado State University
    • Western State College
  • Curriculum Vitae:


Dr. Michael Childers is an Associate Professor in the History Department at Colorado State University specializing in the modern American West and the environment – interests he developed while growing up in Colorado’s Fraser Valley.

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, and 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.


Book Manuscript:

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.

Anthology Chapter:

“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.


“Neon Metropolis: Hal Rothman’s Las Vegas in the 21st Century,” Nevada Historical Quarterly (Fall/Winter 2020), Volume 63, Number 3-4. 155, 176.

“Remaking Sun Valley: Condominiums and Sprawl in the Mountains of the West,” in Forest History Today (Spring/Fall 2019), 4-15.

“For Public Use, Resort, and Recreation: The Struggle Over Appropriate Recreation in Yosemite,” George Wright Forum (November 2018) Volume 35, Number 2. 304-311.

“The Stoneman Meadow Riots and Law Enforcement in Yosemite National Park,” in Forest History Today (Spring/Fall 2017), 30-37.

Encyclopedia Entries:

“Colorado’s Ski Industry,” in The Colorado Encyclopedia Edited by William Wei. Denver: Colorado Humanities. 2017,

“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.

In Preparation 

Book Manuscript:

“The Mountains are Calling: Tourists and the Unmaking of Yosemite National Park,” book manuscript under contract with the University of Nevada Press. (In Progress).

Anthology Chapters:

“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).

“Returning to the Best Idea We Ever Had,” Wallace Stegner Symposium Anthology, (Submitted).




  • HIST 355 American Environmental History


    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 Seminar


    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 Recreation


    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 West


    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.