Sustainability & The Environment

The Past, Present and Future of Fire in the American West

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Description

Wildfires are scorching the western United States with increasing severity. Understanding the history of fire in the West, including Indigenous fire practices and fire’s many environmental legacies, is crucial to determining a more sustainable path forward. This conversation includes various experts on the issue and is facilitated by historian Dr. Bill Deverell, Director of the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West and Head of the institute’s The West on Fire project. Featuring Dr. Josh West, Zinsmeyer Early Career Chair in Marine Studies and USC Dornsife Associate Professor; Dr. Jared Dahl Aldern, historical ecologist and lead investigator for The West on Fire project; and Dr. Theresa Gregor, a descendant of the Iipay Nation of San Ysabel (Kumeyaay) and Yoeme (Yaqui), Assistant Professor of American Indian studies at California State University, Long Beach and USC Dornsife alumna.

Who Will Benefit

– Those looking to learn how climate change has intensified wildfires in the western U.S., specifically in California
– Researchers and scientists hoping to determine a more sustainable path forward
– Those who want to deepen their understanding of the region’s past, present and future relationship with fire

About Our Featured Faculty

Josh West is a Professor of Earth Sciences and Environmental Studies at USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and Wilford and Daris Zinsmeyer Early Career Chair in Marine Studies. His research focuses on how Earth’s environment has changed over the millions of years of geologic time, and particularly how the evolution of global climate, atmospheric CO2 and life are related. He also works on understanding how erosional processes at Earth’s surface sustain life, including vibrant tropical forests, while simultaneously generating deadly natural hazards such as landslides and debris flows. He earned his PhD in earth sciences (geochemistry) and MPhil in geography from University of Cambridge and his BS in geology and geophysics from Yale University.

Bill Deverell is a Professor of History, Spatial Sciences and Environmental Studies at USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and Director of the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West. He is also Head of the institute’s The West on Fire project. Dr. Deverell is an American historian with a focus on the nineteenth and twentieth century American West. He has written works on political, social, ethnic and environmental history. He earned his PhD and MA in history from Princeton University and his BA in American studies from Stanford University.