History Department
History Department

Erika Bsumek awarded 2014-15 Dad's Assoc. Centennial Teaching Fellowship

Wed, July 30, 2014
Erika Bsumek awarded 2014-15 Dad's Assoc. Centennial Teaching Fellowship
Prof. Erika M. Bsumek

Professor Erika M. Bsumek is the recipient of the 2014-2015 Dad's Association Centennial Teaching Fellowship. The award reflects Dr. Bsumek’s teaching excellence and commitment, and is an acknowledgment of the many contributions she has made to the undergraduate experience for students at the university.

Dr. Bsumek's teaching areas include Native American History, U.S. West/Southwestern Studies, Environmental/Urban Environmental Studies, Public History, and Material Culture Studies. Recently she has offered such courses as:

  • Building America: Engineering Society and Culture, 1868-1980
  • Environmental History of North America
  • Introduction to American Indian History
  • Twentieth Century Native American History
  • History of the American West
  • Imagined West/Real West: History, Art, and the Far West

(See course descriptions at: utexas.edu/cola/depts/history/faculty/bsumeke#courses)

Dads' Association Centennial Teaching Fellowships were established by the University of Texas System Board of Regents in 1983 with funds raised by the university's Dads' Association and matching funds under the Centennial Teachers and Scholars Program. Selection of faculty members appointed as Dads' Association Centennial Teaching Fellows is based upon recommendations from the deans of colleges and schools offering courses for freshman undergraduates. The prestigious fellowship is given annually to faculty at UT Austin committed to the teaching of freshman undergraduates.

Here are just a few quotes from students' nomination letters:

  • “When I started Professor Bsumek’s course “Imagined West and Real West,” I knew virtually nothing about the subject matter. Prof. Bsumek captured my attention and caused me to care about the subject through her enthusiastic instruction. She made the class interesting and engaging. By involving everyone in the class, she created a true sense of community and camaraderie among the students.”
  • “Professor Bsumek challenged every one of us to confront our existing viewpoints and seek out new and polished conclusions.”
  • “The ability to effectively cultivate an informed opinion and communicate it is a skill I will use for the rest of my life, and Dr. Bsumek’s course helped me hone this more than another other course I have ever taken. I also grew exponentially as a writer.”
  • “Dr. Bsumek is a wonderful instructor who brought out the best in my analytical writing and critical thinking skills, and who sparked my interest in a subject I never thought I would care about.”
  • “The most important thing that Dr. Bsumek did for me personally was to encourage growth and development in my writing skills. She took aside several days in class to bring us to on-campus sites that would aid us with our research, including the Perry-Castaneda Library, the Blanton Art Museum, and the Briscoe Center for American History. She was also there to help me through every step of my work. Anytime I had a question about how to research something, or how to express my viewpoints most effectively through my writing, she was more than willing to assist me.”
  • “Dr. Bsumek’s course was an eye opening experience for me. I have consistently kept in contact with Dr. Bsumek since I finished her course and I know I will continue to stay in touch. I wish every freshman at UT could have a professor like Dr. Bsumek their first semester.”

In addition to being an outstanding professor, Dr. Bsumek is also an award-winning scholar who has written about Native American history, the history of the consumption and production of both manufactured and handmade goods in the United States, and the history of anthropology. Her book publications include Indian-made: Navajo Culture in the Marketplace, 1868-1940 (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, October 2008), and a co-edited volumed entitled Nation-States and the Global Environment: New Approaches to International Environmental History (Oxford University Press, May 2013), with David Kinkela and Mark Atwood Lawrence.

Her current research explores the social and environmental history of the area surrounding Glen Canyon on the Utah/Arizona border from the 1840s through the 1980s. (The working title of her book is “Engineering Glen Canyon: Mormons, Indians, and the Damming on the American West”). She is also working on a larger project that examines the impact that large construction projects (dams, highways, cities and suburbs) had on the American West and writing a book titled “The Concrete West: Engineering Society and Culture in the Arid West, 1900-1970.”

Read more about Professor Bsumek on her faculty profile page, and watch an interview with her on Not Even Past. Dr. Bsumek has authored several articles for NEP, including: "History Underfoot," "Navajo Arts and the History of the U.S. West," “Her Program’s Progress” on Lady Bird Johnson’s beautification project, and “History & Myth in John Ford’s The Searchers."

See also:
“’Navajo' is more than a fashion trend,” an op-ed in the Austin American Statesman, Nov. 26, 2011:

Complete list of Recipients of the Dads' Association Centennial Teaching Fellowship:

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