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We study the past, present, and future of the American West. The Center is dedicated to examining this region through multiple lenses. With a strong interdisciplinary focus, we collaborate with researchers and partners at Stanford and beyond to advance public understanding of the West.

Environment and Energy

In the face of climate change and widespread drought conditions, the Bill Lane Center is committed to studying water and energy issues and supporting far-reaching sustainability solutions. We support research efforts by faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students. 

Western Governance and Policy

From booming Silicon Valley to remote mountain wilderness areas and small ranching communities, the West's diverse landscape encompasses important policy and economic development issues. The Center sponsors a number of research projects, conferences and forums to discuss these issues. 

The Rural West Initiative

The Rural West Initiative explores issues of the less populated areas of the North American West – places whose natural beauty and heritage are matched only by the challenges they face. These issues, such as access to economic opportunity, health care, education and housing, often get less attention than they deserve. By bringing together scholars and practitioners from across the region, our Rural West project aims to tackle some of the biggest problems of rural western life through scholarship, public policy and journalism. 

History, Arts and Culture

The American West has a rich and complex history. Through our work with scholars of history, anthropology and the arts, we strive to study the unique culture of the West and highlight the contributions that Western artists have made to the literary, visual and performing arts.  

canyons and trees

Environmental Justice and Sustainability Seminar

These talks aim to promote scholarly work and dialogue on environmental justice and sustainability in disadvantaged communities. Seminars feature speakers from within and outside of Stanford who are working on different aspects of environmental justice and inequity, like air and water quality, vulnerability to extreme weather, climate change, mitigation measures, access to affordable energy and more.

empty highway with power lines

The American West Working Group

The American West Working Group is an inter- and multi-disciplinary research discussion group that meets weekly on Fridays. It covers a diverse set of topics, from humanities to social sciences, natural sciences and beyond, as they pertain to the American West.