I work at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where I teach courses in public history, environmental history, and North American borderlands. I hold a Ph.D. (2021) from Montana State University, Bozeman, specializing in histories of environment, borderlands, science, and society. While my academic training is grounded in the United States, I research and write about ecologies that operate beyond the nation-state. My current book project is about large landscape conservation in North America, examining how three of the most iconic species on the continent—gray wolves, giant sequoias, and monarch butterflies—have forced people of different nationalities to re-imagine and reconstitute political boundaries over time. By organizing around biocentric geographies, civil society in Canada, Mexico, and the United States challenged fundamental notions of state power and national sovereignty. Confronting the climate crisis requires building an argument for the freedom of movement for our human and non-human neighbors.
I am also a public history practitioner who collaborates with other people and institutions to bring historical knowledge to general audiences. My projects range from editing a cultural resource management report on Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park to consulting on a documentary on the 40th anniversary of Colorado’s 1976 Big Thompson Flood to supporting youth litigants on the constitutional right to a stable climate. I worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, partnering with historians and animal welfare scientists on a project about cattle-breeding technologies and their roles in the dairy and beef industries. I believe in delivering useable pasts to empower local communities, citizen democracy, and transnational solidarity.
I earned a B.A. at Carroll College, Helena, and an M.A. at Colorado State University. Before graduate studies, I was a high school social studies teacher. I served on the board of Montana Interfaith Power and Light, an organization that seeks to mobilize people of faith to take bold and just action on climate change, and organized for the Sunrise Movement. When time allows, I can be found fly-fishing on the Madison River, gardening with my wife Carly, or chasing our two sons around a century-old house.