Char Miller (PO)

Char Miller on balcony

Photo © 2004 Mark Greenberg, San Antonio Current.

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Office: Edmunds 127 (Pomona)

Phone: 909.607.8343

Email: char.miller[at]


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 am the W. M. Keck Professor of Environmental Analysis at Pomona College and help coordinate the Claremont Consortium EA major. The development of this cross-campus major was generously funded by a $1.5M grant from the Mellon Foundation in 2009, 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,  where I was chair of the History Department and Director of Urban Studies. In 2013, I was named a Wig Distinguished Professor at Pomona College for teaching excellence and in 2015 received thePomona College Alumni Service Award. I served a three-year term as a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians beginning in 2007, and 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; I also held the Dr. and Mrs. Z. T. Scott Faculty Fellowship for Excellence in Teaching at Trinity University.

A Senior Fellow of the Pinchot Institute for Conservation, and a Fellow of the Forest History Society, I’ve been a Contributing Writer for the Texas Observer, an associate editor for Environmental History and the Journal of Forestry, as well 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. In 2014, my then-blog, Golden Green, received the inaugural Public Service Award from the American Society for Environmental History.

Courses Presently Taught

EA 20 Nature, Culture, and Society (Spring 16)

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)

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 (Fall 15)

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 (Fall 16)

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 17)

“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 191 Senior Thesis  (Fall 15)

EA 190 Senior Seminar (Spring 16)

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.

Recent Books:

All these books are located here

Recent Anthologies:

Recent Articles & Chapters

  • “Foreword to Bibi Gaston, My Foresters: Gifford Pinchot and the Old Timers, (Elder Wood Books, 2015)
  • “Foreword” to Jack Ward Thomas, Forks in the Trail: The Evolution of a Wildlife Biologist, (Missoula MT: The Boone and Crockett Club, 2015), ix-xi
  • “Foreword” to Jim Furnish, Toward a Natural Forest: A Memoir, (Oregon State University Press, 2015), 1-4.
  • “Streetscape Environmentalism: Flood Control, Social Justice, and Political Power in San Antonio, 1921-1975,” Southwestern Historical Quarterly, October October 2014, 159-77
  • “Foreword,” to the 5th edition of Roderick Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind, (New Haven CT: Yale University Press, 2014), vii-xv.
  • “Making Common Cause for Conservation: The Pinchot Institute and Grey Towers National Historic Site, 1963-2013,” Forest History Today, Spring/Fall 2013, 42-51.
  • “Uncle Sam’s Badge: Identity and Representation in the U.S. Forest Service, 1905-2013,” Journal of Forestry, September 2013, 366-70
  • “Riding the Wave: Open Access, Digital Scholarship, and the Undergraduate Thesis,” Keynote Address, USETDA annual meeting, 2013
  • “Neither Crooked Nor Shady: The Weeks Act, Theodore Roosevelt, and the Virtue of Eastern National Forests, 1899-1911,” Theodore Roosevelt Association Journal, 30:4, Fall 2012, 15-24
  • “San Antonio, Texas: 1989-2011,” in Richardson Dilworth, ed., Cities in American Political History, (Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Press, 2011), 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, 121-36. With Mark Cioc.
  • “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), 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), 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.