The Center of the American West takes as its mission the creation of forums for the respectful exchange of ideas and perspectives in the pursuit of solutions to the region's difficulties. We at the Center believe that an understanding of the historical origins of the West's problems, an emphasis on the common interests of all parties, and a dose of good humor are essential to constructive public discussion.

Wyoming Institute for Humanities Research

Understanding the Underworld: Hydraulic Fracturing and the Depths of the Humanities

October 30, 2013

University of Wyoming

The University of Wyoming has recently funded a Humanities Research Institute. They are in their first semester of operation and this will be the first lecture exclusively sponsored by the Wyoming Institute for Humanities Research.

Patty Limerick will be speaking on the recent NSF grant that the Center of the American West is a part of:

In October of 2012, the National Science Foundation Sustainability Research Network awarded a five-year, twelve-million-dollar grant to a consortium of scientists and engineers based at the University of Colorado. The goal of the grant is to provide the foundation for a more evidence-based consideration of natural gas development, maximizing the benefits of this resource while minimizing the negative impacts—on human and natural communities—of its production. The humanities-based Center of the American West holds the role of outreach and public communication in this collaboration, and by all indications, the Center’s participation was a key feature of the successful pursuit of the grant. This talk will show the application of historical and literary perspectives to a vexing and contentious policy issue. Placing perceptions of hydraulic fracturing in the broader picture of human efforts to understand and envision the subsurface, Limerick will advance a proposition that she believes in the core of her soul: the humanities hold a great deal more promise for benefiting society than most members of the public—not to mention many humanities scholars themselves!—now realize. In the seemingly intractable and polarized debate over hydraulic fracturing, research in the humanities can offer perspectives never anticipated—and therefore not yet dismissed or rejected—by the opponents and contestants who have carried on that debate with such vigor.