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Char Miller

Photo © 2004 Mark Greenberg, San Antonio Current.

Photo © 2004 Mark Greenberg, San Antonio Current.



Office: Edmunds 127
Phone: 909.607.8343
Web site:


B.A. in History and Political Studies, Pitzer College
M.A. in History, The Johns Hopkins University
Ph.D. in History, The Johns Hopkins University

Specialty Interests

U. S. environmental history, politics and policy; federal public-lands management; urban history, intellectual and cultural history


I have the great privilege of serving as the director of the Environmental Analysis program and the W. M. Keck Professor of Environmental Analysis at Pomona, and coordinator of the five-college major in EA. The development of this new cross-campus major was generously funded by a $1.5M grant from the Mellon Foundation, a significant boost to the program and its academic ambitions.

From 2007-09, I was a visiting professor at Pomona, teaching in the History Department and EA Program. Prior to that, I had taught at Trinity University in San Antonio,  serving as chair of the History Department and Director of Urban Studies. In 2007, I was tapped for a three-year term as a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians; in 2002 was named a Piper Professor, a prize awarded by the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation for excellence in teaching and service to higher education in Texas; and in 1997, was awarded the Dr. and Mrs. Z. T. Scott Faculty Fellowship for Excellence in Teaching by Trinity University.

A Senior Fellow of the Pinchot Institute for Conservation, I’m also a Contributing Writer of the Texas Observer, and have served as Associate Editor of Environmental History and the Journal of Forestry, and on the editorial board of the Pacific Historical Review. Past service includes working on the Board of Directors of the Forest History Society and the editorial board of the Trinity University Press; Chair of the State Board of Review for the Texas Historical Commission; historical consultant to the City of San Antonio’s Main Plaza Redevelopment project; and as an appointed member to the city’s Open Space Advisory Board and Tree Preservation Ordinance Panel.

To read my weekly column, Golden Green, on environmental issues in California and the West, click here.

Courses Presently Taught

EA 20 Nature, Culture, and Society (Fall 11)
This required class for the five-college EA major uses case studies as a method of analyzing key environmental dilemmas. Topics will vary, but will draw on an interdisciplinary array of sources in the humanities and social sciences, with the objective of helping students better understand how we imagine, interpret, value, and engage with nature (and “Nature”); and how those responses shape the human condition and planetary health.

EA 27 Cities by Nature: Time, Space, Place (Fall 12)
A cross-cultural examination of urbanization from the ancient world to the present, the course explores the changing nature of urban life and its rituals; it also addresses the impact urban development has had upon environmental systems, as well on political, social and economic structures.

EA 17o U.S. Environmental History (Spring 13)
When you look at a tree, what do you see? What language would you employ to describe it? The choice is endless, and is made all the more complicated by the fact that such choices are culturally constructed and change over time; we do not look at trees–or anything else–in quite the ways our ancestors did. This is crucial, for how people perceive trees (or the land, generally) determines how they will react to and use it. And it is with these changing perceptions that this seminar is concerned. We will draw on primary and secondary sources to probe how earlier generations conceived of nature, and in doing so we will gain a deeper understanding of contemporary environmental concerns and anxieties – or at least that’s the hope!

EA 171 Water in the West (Spring 12)
This seminar will explore how communities, states, and the federal government developed the legal precedents, physical infrastructure, financial mechanisms, environmental engineering, political will, and social desire for the construction of a hydraulic empire in the Trans-Mississippi West. Topics will range from Native American and Spanish water initiatives to 19th-century irrigation schemes to settle the west; Los Angeles’ water grabs; the plumbing of the region’s great river basins—Colorado, Columbia, Rio Grande and Missouri. We will explore as contemporary urban water woes and some of the environmental-justice dilemmas that arise from them. The tight links between the debates of the past and present is one reason why we will also have an opportunity to learn for a number of guest speakers closely connected to some of the most complex problems in current water politics and policy.

EA 172 Crisis Management: Public Lands and American Culture (Fall 11)
“Public lands exist to-day because the people want them,” argued Gifford Pinchot, founding chief of the Forest Service. “To make them accomplish the most good the people themselves must make clear how they want them run” Implicit in his assertion is the expectation that the people’s choices might well change over time. Have they? This seminar explores the history and cultural significance of the national forests, grasslands, parks, and refuges, and the federal agencies that manage them. Why were these systems created, and how have they evolved are among the key issues we will track, but we will also explore some tricky on-the-ground realities that continue to complicate their management and the often-charged political landscape in which they are located. Public debate over their purposes will long continue precisely because these public lands are set within a democratic polity; we argue over them because they matter to us.

EA 190 Senior Seminar (Spring 12)
A capstone, modular-based seminar in which senior majors focus their various curricular backgrounds on environmental issues and problems, including projects of practical nature developed with the faculty and the College’s Sustainability Integration Office, and which are focused on “real world,” team-based investigations.

EA 191 Senior Thesis  (Fall 12)

Recent Publications


Many of these may be located here

Edited Volumes

Articles & Chapters

  • “San Antonio, Texas: 1989-2011,” in Richardson Dilworth, ed., Cities in American Political History, (Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Press, 2011), p. 669-675.
  • Trash Talk: A Case Study of Waste Analysis,” Journal of Sustainability Education,” March 2011.
  • “Interview: Joel Tarr,” Environmental History, 16:1, January 2011, p. 121-36.
  • “Le Coup d’Oeil Forestier: Évolution de la Vision de La Forestiere Fédérale Aux États-Unis de 1870 À 1945,” in Gérer La Forêt des Deux Côtés de Atlantique, (Nancy FR: AgroParisTech ENGREF, 2010), p. 99-113; Le Coup d’Oeil Forestier: Shifting Views of Federal Forestry in America, 1870-1945,” in V. Alaric Sample, et al., eds., Sustainable Forest Management: The Divergence and Reconvergence of European and American Forestry, (Durham: Forest History Society, 2008), p. 94-112.
  • “National Forest Management and Private Land Development: Historical, Political and Planning Considerations,” Society and Natural Resources, 23:7, July 2010, p. 669-78. (With Martin Nie).
  • “Interview: J. Donald Hughes,” Environmental History, 15:2, April 2010, p. 305-18. (With Mark Cioc).
  • “Interview: W. H. McNeill,” Environmental History, 15:1, January 2010, p. 129-137. (With Mark Cioc).
  • “Interview: Alfred Crosby,” Environmental History 14:3, July 2009, p. 559-568. (With Mark Cioc).
  • “Interview: John Opie,” Environmental History, 14:2, April 2009, p. 252-65. (With Mark Cioc).
  • “The Once and Future Forest Service: Landscape Politics and Policies Over Time,” Journal of Policy History, Winter 2009, p. 89-104.
  • James Eights: A 19th-Century American Naturalist,” Encyclopedia of Earth. February 2009.
  • “Interview: Susan Flader,” Environmental History, 14:1, January 2009, p. 151-63. (With Mark Cioc).
  • “Will the Forest Service Celebrate its Bicentennial? Managing the National Forests and Grasslands in an Age of Climate Change,” in Daniel Kemmis, ed., Challenges Facing the U.S. Forest Service: A Critical Review, (Missoula, MT: Center for the Rocky Mountain West, 2008), p. 12-21.
  • “When Republicans Were Green: Conservation in the Age of Theodore Roosevelt,” Journal of the Theodore Roosevelt Association, Fall 2007, p. 12-24.
  • “Interview: Samuel P. Hays,” Environmental History, July 2007, p. 666-77. (With Mark Cioc).
  • “Interview: Roderick Nash,” Environmental History, April 2007, p. 399-407. (With Mark Cioc).
  • “A Sylvan Prospect: John Muir, Gifford Pinchot, and Twentieth-Century Conservationism,” in Michael Lewis, ed., American Wilderness, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), p. 131-48.
  • “Interview: Hal K. Rothman,” Environmental History, January 2007, p. 141-52. (With Mark Cioc).
  • “Landmark Decision: The Antiquities Act, Big-Stick Conservation, and the Modern State,” in David Harmon, et al., eds., The Antiquities Act and the Foundations of American Conservation, (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2006), p. 64-78.