March 6, 2015 — MSU News Service

BOZEMAN – Elegant conservation will be the theme of this year’s Wallace Stegner Lecture, to be given Wednesday, March 25, at Montana State University’s Museum of the Rockies.

Mark Fiege, a history professor at Colorado State University and currently the Wallace Stegner Visiting Professor at MSU, will speak on “Elegant Conservation: Rediscovering a Way Forward in a Time of Unprecedented Uncertainty.”

Doors will open at 6:30 p.m., and the lecture will start at 7 p.m. A public reception will follow. The event is free, but tickets are required. They can be picked up at MSU’s Department of History, Philosophy & Religious Studies in 2-155 Wilson Hall.

Explaining his talk, Fiege said, “In the second decade of the 21st century, Americans find themselves divided and dispirited. Economic contraction, political dysfunction, racial strife, steep inequalities, war, and global environmental problems feed fears that the nation is unraveling and contribute to the belief that recent times are an Age of Fracture.

“Yet this account cannot explain considerable grassroots activity, including in conservation and resource management, in which citizens are attempting to reinvigorate public institutions and the democratic practices that support them. Elegant Conservation’ describes efforts to foster pragmatic, pluralistic, socially responsive, process-oriented methods that rise above fears of collapse.

‘The forgotten, overlooked, and hidden stories of conservationists such as Robert Marshall—namesake of Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness—offer a reserve of insights and inspiration on which citizens can draw as they navigate a way forward in a time of extraordinary doubt and uncertainty.”

Fiege is a co-founder and council member of CSU’s Public Lands History Center and a co-founder of Parks as Portals to Learning, an interdisciplinary research and learning project in collaboration with National Park Service staff at Rocky Mountain National Park. He wrote “Irrigated Eden: The Making of an Irrigated Landscape in the American West” and “The Republic of Nature: An Environmental History of the United States.”

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