Michelle Berry

Assistant Professor (Career Track)

Director of Undergraduate Studies

 I am an historian (PhD, University of Arizona, 2005) whose primary intellectual interests include feminist pedagogy (teaching), ecofeminism, political ecology, environmental and labor history, and sports studies. In each of these, I am interested in understanding how power is constructed around gendered, racialized, and classed identities. I define myself, professionally, as a teacher-scholar who encourages students to engage in comparative study especially with regard to the connection between the cultural and the political. 

I teach a wide variety of courses in the Gender and Women's Studies and the History departments, and in each students will recognize common objectives - namely I want my students to leave the class having had an opportunity to absorb and practice a set of skills that I find to be important in understanding and maneuvering power relationships, justice, and governance in their own lives in the 21st century. These are the kinds of things I find myself pondering around a campfire when I'm away from my computer rejuvenating. 

After nearly 20 years in the classroom, I have become convinced that empowering students to know how to read and write critically and think analytically is the greatest success I can have in my classroom. One can find a longer treatise on my approach to teaching in my newly published book on the subject A Primer for Teaching Environmental History that was published by Duke University Press in the Spring of 2018. In addition to teaching and writing about teaching, I am also at work on a monograph that examines the collective environmental identities of range cattle ranchers in the US West from 1945-1965. 

It is my primary and ground-breaking contention that cows are very, very important to the history of the US West and the world in general. More precisely, I am interested in the ways in which this group of agricultural laborers used ecological knowledge and connection with the nonhuman world to erase internal differences and division in their quest to remain one of the most powerful special interest groups in the United States. Fairly often in my classes we have a reading or a lecture on the intersections between cows (or some other important animal) and whatever we are studying at the time. It works. I promise.