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Center News

2016 in Review

Collage of highlights from 2016
Photos (clockwise from left): The '...& the West' blog, part of the Center's new website; Montana Gov. Steve Bullock delivering the keynote address at the Eccles Family Rural West Conference in Missoula, March 2016; Jen Corrinne Brown, Jon Lauck, Dan Reineman, and Kathryne Young at the Rural West Conference; hikers at San Gregorio Beach after the annual Stanford to the Sea walk; map of California groundwater basins from the '...& the West' Blog. Photographs and map by Geoff McGhee; 'Bears Ears' photograph by Tim Peterson



Dear Friend of the Bill Lane Center,

The past year was a fruitful and busy one at the Center for the American West. Our core team has been hard at work in 2016 and are eagerly preparing for 2017. The American West is both blessed with its natural beauty and challenged by a range of natural and human threats to its landscape. Our students take classes and work in internships related to the American West. The Center’s researchers are working on multiple fronts to study issues and problems in the region, collaborate with government officials and stakeholders, and offer in-depth insights and policy solutions.

As an interdisciplinary center, we are fortunate to work with many partners across the university. Collaborations with our partners enable us to expand the scope of our activities. In 2016, we added the Stanford University Libraries, several agencies working on energy policy, and the University of Montana to name a few.

New Initiatives

This summer, the Center debuted a new program that we’re calling ArtsWest. The American West boasts a rich tradition of distinctive, celebrated works of literary, visual, and photographic art. The West is a place of global creativity and artistic vision. ArtsWest aims to place a spotlight on the contribution of the arts and humanities in the American West through public programming. We plan to alternate programs highlighting the work of Great Writers and Great Artists of the West.

Our inaugural program, “Jack London: Apostle of the American West,” was held in September. Experts from across the West participated in a panel focused on the author's the life and legacy, including his lesser-known work as a photojournalist. We were fortunate to bring leading scholars from The Huntington Library, the University of Texas, and Washington State University to Stanford. In conjunction with the panel, we hosted a special pop-up exhibition with objects from London’s life. The event was nationally broadcast on C-SPAN. In 2017, our ArtsWest program will feature Alex Nemerov, Chair of the Art and Art History Department, and Gavin Jones of the English Department.

In October, we were pleased to launch a new website. We’ve simplified the navigation, added beautiful photography of the American West, and revised every page of content. The site is updated weekly with news about our research, events, and student opportunities. In the fall, former New York Times reporter Felicity Barringer joined the Center’s team as our Writer in Residence. Our new website features her blog, “…& The West,” dedicated to reporting on the environmental future of western North America. We continue to add new features to the site, and will be working in 2017 to develop a new portion of the site called “Explore the West,” which will incorporate history and interactive tools that breathe life into our work.

Undergraduate Opportunities

Giving Stanford undergraduates the chance to experience the West has always been central to our mission. This year, we offered a record number of research and internship opportunities for students to immerse themselves in the region. We welcomed the chance to place students with the U.S. Forest Service, Santa Lucia Conservancy, and Trust for Public Lands as new internship hosts. In total, 13 Stanford undergraduates participated in our summer internship program, working on western issues in California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, and Oregon. Working with the Precourt Institute for Energy and Stanford in Government, we co-sponsored the inaugural year of the Stanford Energy Internships in California. This new internship program placed ten students in energy-policy internships in Sacramento. Students worked at the state Air Resources Board, Department of Water Resources, Energy Commission, Independent System Operator, and Public Utilities Commission.

Our annual summer field course, Sophomore College, took 14 undergraduates on a journey through Washington and Montana. Together with Stanford Law Professor Buzz Thompson and myself, the students visited with tribal, state, and federal representatives to learn about natural resources management on Native American reservations. Our team is working to expand experiential education opportunities for undergraduates by supporting Stanford’s Alternative Spring Break program. We are pleased to help advise a 2015 Sophomore College alumnus, who will co-lead a course on Environmental Policy in California.

This year, we have launched several projects with special focus on water, energy and transportation issues across the West. As local jurisdictions increasingly rely on informal, regional collaborations to manage natural resources and address cross-jurisdictional problems, we have embarked on a multifaceted project to examine the inner workings of regional water and transportation collaborations. The project will provide policy recommendations to strengthen collaborative efforts to balance diverse stakeholder interests and improve efficiency in decision-making and service delivery. To better inform public policies on water use and wind energy, we conducted two public opinion polls to examine Californians’ attitudes toward recycled water and the use of wind turbine systems. As California and much of the West continue to struggle with drought, we are working on new projects that examine the effectiveness of various water pricing strategies as well as regulatory tools that promote water conservation.

Looking to 2017

As we prepare for the new year, we thank you for your continued support of the Bill Lane Center. In 2017, we’re excited to turn our attention toward issues of rural health and health care at our Eccles Family Rural West Conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico. We welcome you to visit the Center anytime you might be on campus, and look forward to our sustained success in the years to come.

All the best,




Bruce E. Cain
Spence and Cleone Eccles Family Director
Charles Louis Ducommun Professor in Humanities and Sciences

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