The American West: The History, the Values, the Struggle, and the Legacy

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Opening dinner followed by three days of plenary sessions, breakouts, and an incredibly unique and special day visit to Bill Koch’s Town and Ranch in Somerset, CO. The 19th century American West represents both the proudest manifestations of our collective imagination and the struggles at the dark margins of our American character. We identify with all the people involved: noble Indian warrior and soldier; homesteader and cowboy; mining prospector and laborer; and outlaw and lawman. This period was also a time of numerous dichotomies: the clash of values and cultures; technological advancements and an unwavering faith in Manifest Destiny; the wonder of unimaginable natural beauty and the extraction of resources; rugged individualism and vital community; government incentive and entrepreneurialism; and the reality versus the myth portrayed in literature, art, photography, and cinema. This three-day program will explore the history of this monumental period and its legacy felt today. 

*$1,000 of the cost of the Patron Pass goes towards funding the scholars for American West. This portion of your contribution for the event is tax-deductible, and greatly appreciated.

Confirmed speakers include

  • Terry Anderson, author, The Political Economy of the American West;
  • Stephen Aron, history professor, University of California Los Angeles and founding executive director, Institute for the Study of the American West, Autry National Center;
  • Ned Blackhawk, history professor, Yale University and author, Violence over the Land: Indians and Empires in the early American West
  • Bruce Cain, Political Science Professor, Stanford University, and Director, Bill Lane Center for the American West;
  • Sara Dant, Chair and Professor of History, Weber State University and author, Losing Eden: An Environmental History of the American West; 
  • Dan Flores, A.B Hammond Professor Emeritus, History of the American West, University of Montana-Missoula and author, Coyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History;
  • Elliot Gerson, Executive Vice President, Policy and Public Programs, The Aspen Institute;
  • Molly Gloss, author, Falling From Horses;
  • Drew Gomber, Old West History contributor, History Channel;
  • Kurt House, author and western memorabilia appraiser;
  • Marcus Huff, featured author and historian, Wild West Tech;
  • Bill Koch, CEO and Chairman of the Board, Oxbow Carbon LLC.;
  • Patty Limerick, Faculty Director and Board Chair, Center of the American West, University of Colorado Boulder; 
  • Roger McGrath, former history professor, UCLA and author, Gunfighters, Highwaymen, and Vigilantes;
  • Eric Motley, Executive Vice President, Institutional Advancement and Corporate Secretary, The Aspen Institute
  • Ed Roberson, Host, Mountain & Prairie Podcast;
  • Martha A. Sandweiss, Professor, History, Princeton University;
  • Virginia Scharff, Distinguished Professor, History and Director, Center for the Southwest, University of New Mexico; 
  • Hampton Sides, author of Blood and Thunder: The Epic Story of Kit Carson and the Conquest of the American West;
  • Mark Varien, Executive Vice President of the Research Institute at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center;
  • Michael Wallis, award-winning author, Route 66: The Mother Road;
  • Steven Woodworth, author of Manifest Destinies: Westward Expansion and the Civil War;
  • Roy B. Young, vice president, Wild West History Association (WWHA); publications editor, Saddlebag newsletter; former president, Western Outlaw-Lawman History Association; and former president, Oklahombres. 

Tuesday, August 14
Aspen Meadows campus
5:00-6:00 pm: Plenary Session
6:00-7:00 pm: Opening Reception
7:00-9:30 pm: Opening Dinner and Discussion
Wednesday, August 15
Aspen Meadows campus
8:00-8:50 am Roundtable Speaker Breakfasts
9:00 am-1:50 pm: Plenary Sessions
2:00-4:00 pm: Breakouts and Activities
5:00-6:30 pm: American West Public Lecture

Thursday, August 16
Day Trip to Bill Koch's Town and Ranch, Somerset, CO
6:00-9:00 am: Bus and Helicopter Transportation to Town and Ranch
9:00 am-6:00 pm: Plenaries, Tours, Breakout Sessions at Town and Ranch
6:00-10:00 pm: Bus and Helicopter Transportation to Aspen
Bus transportation provided. Helicopter transportation is available for the additional fee of $500/per person.

Friday, August 17
Aspen Meadows campus

8:00-8:50 am Roundtable Speaker Breakfasts
9:00 am-12:30 pm: Plenary Sessions
12:30-2:00 pm: Closing Barbeque

*This event and registration site is open to members of the Society of Fellows. For more information about the Society of Fellows, please contact us at (970) 544-7980 or