Jay Taylor: Follow the Money

Hi all. I’ll be presenting on Follow the Money: A Spatial History of In-Lieu Programs for Western Federal Lands. This is a digital project constructed as part of the Spatial History Project at Stanford University’s Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis. I’ve worked with co-author Erik Steiner and a team of programmers, historians, and geographers to assemble time-series maps of transfer payments from federal land management agencies to counties in the eleven far western states known as the “public lands states.” The data in this program illustrates how federal conservation laws created long fiscal relationships between land management agencies and state and county governments in the American West, and they graphically demonstrate the deep, often invisible, political economy that inheres in the federal domain. The maps also help illustrate the patchy, non-linear history of natural resource industries in the American West since 1906. Finally, the maps expose problems with the simplistic ways that advocates and scholars have represented the federal domain and Progressive conservation since the 1890s.

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Chris Wells: Minnesota Environments

I am an associate professor of environmental history at Macalester College, where I direct the school’s Andrew Mellon Foundation-sponsored Digital Liberal Arts initiative. My research focuses on the ways that technology–and especially technological systems–have reshaped the American environment, mediating and structuring people’s relationships with the natural world.

For this lightning round, I will discuss Minnesota Environments, a smartphone app and accompanying website developed in collaboration with George Vrtis (Carleton College). Based on the Omeka CMS and its Curatescape plugin, the resulting project allowed students to research and publish material on Minnesota’s environmental history that users can explore from a smartphone, tablet, or computer.