I have always found that college students do their best work when they know it will have some public application beyond the classroom. Consequently, I build into almost every class some practical real-world component. Students in my classes take field trips, do service learning projects, write grants, submit their work for conference presentation and publication, and now, create websites. I call this approach to teaching and learning “hands-on-history.”
The objective of this course was for students to master the historical methodologies they would learn in any senior history seminar at Colorado State University, but instead of writing a term paper, they would collaborate to produce a website that would be usable by students, scholars, park visitors, and anyone interested in the history of a beautiful and fascinating national park.
When I’m not building websites with my students, I teach courses on U.S. environmental history, Mexico, Colorado, and the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. I am the author of the prize-winning Hazardous Metropolis: Flooding and Urban Ecology in Los Angeles (University of California Press, 2004) and a soon-to-be-completed biography of Zebulon Montgomery Pike, the army explorer for whom Pike’s Peak is named. My wife Becky and our two children Renata and Carlos enjoy hiking, camping, traveling, baseball, and volunteering at our church and in the community.