All-expense paid Three-Week Summer Workshop Intensive in Applied History with Patty Limerick

This three-week summer workshop features a balance of brainstorming sessions, skill building exercises, networking, and an immersion into complex, recurring, Western issues. The goal is to help participants identify the ways in which their scholarly work carries relevance to multiple sectors of society. Every activity accents the compatibility of making the most of the individual visitor’s distinctive temperament and interests, while also immersing the visitor in an atmosphere of teamwork.


Post-docs, adjuncts, and recent Ph.D. graduates in History are encouraged to apply. We also accept applications from graduate students who are working on their dissertations as well as motivated undergraduate students attending universities, colleges, and community colleges.

Out of State participants will receive:

    • All travel expenses paid,
    • Meals and incidentals,
    • Lodging in lovely Boulder, CO,
    • A $1,200 stipend

*If you are local, you will receive the stipend, and the majority of your meals, but you will not receive travel or lodging reimbursement.

Summer 2022

Margaret Jacobs

Chancellor’s Professor of History at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL)

White Mother to a Dark Race: Settler Colonialism, Maternalism, and the Removal of Indigenous Children in the American West

James Grossman

Executive Director of the American Historical Association

Land of Hope: Chicago, Black Southerners, and the Great Migration and A Chance to Make Good: African-Americans, 1900-1929



If you have any questions, please feel free to call the Center of the American West at 303-492-4879.  



Week 1: Finding your audience

The Summer Workshop will begin with a day of orientation and goal-setting with a focus on pairing of “Accomplished” practitioners of Applied History with one visiting historian and one local practitioner where the participants can quiz them about their motivations, their choice of this line of historical practice, and their successes and failures.

That will lead to a preliminary run at coaching the young scholars. The first part of this activity will be a no-holds-barred brainstorming session on these prospective audiences, and then researching these various constituencies and matching components of the participants’ research with particular governmental agencies, advocacy organizations, non-profits, companies, or civic institutions.

Week 2: Cultivating Applied History Skills

This week will place participants in collaborating teams of three to work together (with frequent consultations with the Center of the American West faculty team) to:

        1. Experiment with forms of communication (practicing public speeches and writing op-ed pieces, or conjuring up blogs and podcasts).
        2. Design a multi-dimensional employment plan for pursuing opportunity for future work (writing “pitch letters,” and networking through the Center of the American West’s extensive contacts in the world of environmental policy, management, and advocacy).

Week 3: In-depth review of a pair of Western Issues

We will work together to plan, well ahead of time, a response to a Western American environmental dilemma or conflict that is almost certain to make a reappearance. We will select one topic from the list below, to serve as the subject matter on which to practice our newly cultivated Applied History skills.

        1. The Conundrum of the Subsurface: The allocation and management of groundwater and the development and regulation of subsurface energy resources: natural gas, oil, coal, geothermal.  
        2. Wild Animals and Wild Blazes: The management of wild horses and the issues that the wildlands urban interface raises when dealing with wild lands fire.
        1. Contests for Legitimacy and Cultural Affirmation: Land use for farming and ranching versus land use for urban and suburban residential development
        1. The Tensions of Proximity and Removal: Unforeseen—and Now Unavoidable—Complications of the Prior Presence of Humans in Public Lands Management


Practical Skill Development

While a number of students have had the chance to cultivate some of these skills, our approach, strategy and methods  enables participants to emerge from this three-week intensive as practitioners of Applied History with the following practical skill sets:


Achieving and Maintaining One’s Footing on Historical Terrain (and Sharing the Pleasures of that Achievement with Those in Need of It):

          1. How to put ideas and supporting evidence in a sequence that permits and even welcomes alternative interpretations, and resists the temptation to present the material in a march toward a pre-determined conclusion.
          2. How to use analogies (and metaphors and comparisons) without being used by them. In other words, how to point out historical similarities and patterns while avoiding the peril of a misleading simplicity in suggesting over-exact equivalents.
          3. How to mobilize historical examples to challenge the binary arrangement of people and phenomena into opposed categories. How to escape simplified either/or arrangements—and shift instead to observing and accepting the actual complexity of individuals and groups in history (and in the present!). While the people of the past rarely fit into anything remotely resembling the casting of good guys and bad guys, keeping a vigilant look-out for this habit of thought, with its power to flatten history and to shrink its meaning, is still a necessary investment of attention.

Achieving and Maintaining One’s Footing on the Unsettled Turf of Civic Discussion

          1. How to use the term paradox, as an alternative to inconsistency, contradiction, and hypocrisy, to minimize defensive responses and the resultant sacrifice of audience good will.
          2. How to use humor, even when dealing with very serious matters, and how to know when humor will be (at best) a distraction or (at worst) an accelerator of tension.
          3. How—and when—to manage yourself to meet the standards of neutrality. In an era when many work energetically to maximize and escalate conflict, the need for referees, moderators, and conveners leaves an open door of opportunity to historians. And yet, in Applied History, while neutrality often gets better results than advocacy, there are situations where neutrality can border up on a compromise of integrity. How, in other words, to distinguish circumstances when neutrality is useful and effective, when it is frustrating but still the best stance, and when it is unethical and unmoored.


Cultivating Customs of Expression that Will Increase the Likelihood of Messages that Reach Audiences with the Intended Message

          1. How to speak to journalists (who are, after all, writing the “first draft of history”) while keeping control of your message. In other words, how to think ahead and choose your wording in order to anticipate—and avoid!—misinterpretations and inadvertent misquotations.
          2. How to recognize situations when academic jargon or theory is so essential for intellectual integrity that it cannot be avoided, and how to make its meaning clear to non-historians. How, in other words, to serve as a translating service for the work of academics.
          3. How to put together a plan for a speech, an op-ed piece, a blog, or a podcast, and how to recognize that your plan seemed great at first, but needs serious help before it is ready to go public. And then—most important!—how to cut short brooding and self-reproach, and to work fast and effectively to get the plan into better operating order.

It’s easy to apply. Simply submit:

1. A three page, double spaced, essay exploring how your academic training has prepared you for reaching a broader audience and how it could limit you in this endeavor. 

2.Your dissertation title or research topic. 

3. An abstract, if applicable.

4. A 15-25 page writing sample. 

5. Your CV. 

6. Optional: If you have written for a wider audience (blog, letter to the editor, etc.), please also include a sample of this work. 

Apply Now!