Skip to main content
Western Colorado's Selective University

Lectureship and Scholarships


The Aspinall Lectureship in History and Political Science has developed into a significant competition with numerous applicants recognized as national authorities in their fields.

It is with pleasure that the Foundation, with Colorado Mesa University, is able to sponsor a free lecture to the public.

2017 Aspinall Lecturer

Adam Sowards

Dr. Adam M. Sowards is an environmental historian and professor at the University of Idaho, where he also directs the Program in Pacific Northwest Studies and serves as Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of History. He is a lifelong northwesterner, spending all but four years of graduate school in that region. As a scholar, Sowards is particularly fascinated with how environmental management has been understood and implemented, especially in the ways that public and scientific values are expressed. Currently, he is working on several projects, including a synthesis of public lands history and a monograph that focuses on an environmental campaign against open-pit mining in a Northwest wilderness. He has authored or edited several books, including Idaho’s Place: A New History of the Gem State (University of Washington Press, 2014) and The Environmental Justice: William O. Douglas and American Conservation (Oregon State University, 2009). Occasionally he writes for non-academic venues, such as High Country News. He received the Outstanding Faculty Award at the University of Idaho in 2010 and the Idaho Book Award from the Idaho Library Association in 2015.

2017 Lecture

Dr. Adam Sowards presents: "An Open Pit Visible from the Moon”: A Wilderness, a Mine, a National Park, and the Test that Changed the West.

The Foundation is delighted to announce its 2017 Aspinall Lecture. Dr. Sowards's presentation will be held on Wednesday, April 5th, at 7:00 pm in the South Ballroom of CMU's University Center. 

On a ridge in the North Cascades in Washington State, low-grade copper ore lay buried and claimed in the 1950s by Kennecott Copper Corporation. In 1964, this ridge became part of Glacier Peak Wilderness Area, one of the original places protected by the Wilderness Act. Two years later Kennecott announced its plan to start an open pit mine at Miners Ridge, which was legal activity based on a compromise in the law. The idea alarmed the public, and soon all sides in the debate recognized it as a test case. Mining companies, federal land agencies, politicians, administrators, and public activists of all types mobilized in creative ways to protect their interests. The story captures an important moment in environmental and western history, a time when Americans pushed the boundaries of wilderness to see how far they might stretch.

Aspinall Course

SOCI 396: “Sagebrush Rebellions and American Public Lands”

For more than a century, westerners have argued over competing visions for public lands. During several periods, including today, these contests have erupted into political rebellion, social conflict, and escalating violence. This course examines the history of environmental conflict among the public lands.

March 27-APRIL 14, 2017
MWF 3:00-4:30

CRN: 45245


Each year Colorado Mesa University students with a 3.0 GPA or higher are interviewed by the Aspinall Foundation Board for scholarships. At present, the Wayne N. Aspinall Award is $7,000. The Charles Traylor Award is $6,000. In addition, three Aspinall Scholarships are awarded for $3,000 each and one at $4,000. There are normally 12-16 qualified applicants.