Colorado State University to Host International Colloquium on National Parks Sept. 14-17

Colorado State University will host an international colloquium on national parks and how they are viewed around the world.

The three-day colloquium, set for Sept. 14-17, brings together a group of top scholars who study the history of national parks on every continent. The scholars will discuss their papers in workshops and also participate in public panels each day. The colloquium is sponsored by the William E. Morgan Chair of Liberal Arts, CSU’s Public Lands History Center and the CSU Department of History.

“We wanted to pull in people from around the world to this colloquium, provide a fresh view of national parks and their histories and refresh those ideas with 21st century sensibilities,” said Mark Fiege, director of the Public Lands History Center and associate professor of history at CSU who specializes in environment and the American West. “National parks are significant – they are our crown jewels, our prized landscapes. You can get at larger issues by studying the parks themselves, and that’s the aim of this colloquium.”

Among issues to be discussed are parks that share borders, such as Glacier National Park in Montana and Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada. It’s an international peace park, Fiege said, and a unique case where the land along the U.S.-Canada border is co-managed by both countries. It’s also the longest unguarded border in the world.

On the other hand, the Organ Pipe National Monument in Arizona, which borders Mexico, is the most dangerous park in the United States due to the threat of drug smuggling and other illegal activities.

Adrian Howkins, assistant professor of history at CSU who specializes in world environmental history, Latin America and Antarctica, said different countries view parks in different ways. Some countries use parks primarily for research while other countries’ parks don’t have the level of commitment from residents that U.S. parks enjoy with Americans.

“One of the things we were hoping for was someone representing every continent, and we have done that,” said Howkins, who is from England. “It’s going to be interesting to see what happens when we get everyone together and get them talking. We want to look at these parks and see what unites them and makes them different.”

Public forums will be held at the Fort Collins Public Library, CSU’s Lory Student Center and Rocky Mountain National Park. All forums are free and open to the public. Limited space is also available for interested individuals who wish to observe the participants’ workshops in the Lory Student Center, Room 228. The workshop schedule is posted at For more information, call (970) 491-6130.

Scheduled forums:

Keynote: National Parks Beyond the Nation: Global Perspectives on the History of "America’s Best Idea"
Paul Sutter, associate professor of history, University of Colorado-Boulder
7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 14
Grey Rock Room, Lory Student Center

National Parks in a Global Context: Are They Truly “National?”
7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15
Ben Delatour Room
Fort Collins Public Library, 201 Peterson St.

National Parks on the Border: What Are the Challenges Where Nations Meet?
Noon Friday, Sept. 16
Grey Rock Room
Lory Student Center, CSU campus

National Parks Around the World: Are They All the Same?
7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17
Beaver Meadows Visitor Center
Rocky Mountain National Park