Ellen Aiken is a core faculty member in the Sewall Residential Academic Program at CU-Boulder, where she teaches The American West, the foundation course for the Center’s Western American Studies certificate program. The Sewall RAP works closely with the Center to introduce undergraduate students to the West as a unique region and to engage them in current Western debates, including land use and public lands policy, energy use and development, native peoples’ rights, and immigration. She also teaches the History of Colorado course in the Department of History.
Her chief pedagogical pleasure is hiking with students in order to foster first-hand knowledge of Western landscapes. She has established a reciprocal relationship between the Sewall RAP and the City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks staff in which OSMP naturalists and rangers lead field trips in exchange for the opportunity to inform Boulder’s college population about Boulder’s accessible, yet fragile, Open Space areas.
Professor Aiken completed her doctorate in 2002 under the direction of Patty Limerick. Her research interests revolve around the transformative relationships that distinct cultures in the West developed with the land and with each other. Her present book project focuses on the Union Pacific coal towns of southern Wyoming.