For the past eleven years, Patty has partnered with The Gilder Lehrman Institute, leading a week long seminar for K-12 teachers. This year, Patty and Sam Bock redesigned the course from a focus on Environmental History to a focus on westward expansion. In traditional approaches to teaching American history, a unit on westward expansion serves as a regional interlude in courses otherwise centered on events in the eastern United States. This seminar mobilized the innovative trends in historical interpretation that have come to the fore in the quarter-century since the launching of the “New Western History.” Principal topics included the displacement and relocation of Indian peoples, the incorporation of the Mexican territories into the United States, the bursts of activity in extractive industries ranging from mining to logging, the complicated enterprise of installing conventional agriculture in arid and semi-arid terrain, the “enabling” role played by federal power in the processes of settlement, and the dynamic effects of changes in communication and transportation. Participants explored the power of Western American history in offering case studies that encapsulate the quintessential patterns and themes of American history, while also noting the distinctiveness of the region in the past and present.
To learn more about Gilder Lehrman including how to apply, you can go to their educators page for resources.