California Studies Association

The latest news, events, and perspectives from the CSA


Jon Christensen, Friend of the CSA, Appointed Executive Director of the Bill Lane Center for the American West

Press Release – August 18, 2009

Jon Christensen appointed Executive Director of the

Bill Lane Center for the American West

The Bill Lane Center for the American West is pleased to announce that Jon Christensen will become the Center’s Executive Director beginning September 1, 2009. Christensen will succeed Tammy Frisby, who has held the position since 2007.

The Bill Lane Center for the American West is an interdisciplinary research and teaching institute founded in 2002 and named in 2005 in honor of Bill Lane, the retired co-chairman of the board of Lane Publishing Company, longtime publisher of Sunset magazine, and former United States Ambassador to Australia and Nauru.

The Center is dedicated to advancing scholarly and public understanding of the West’s past, present, and future. It supports research, teaching, and reporting about land and life in the western half of the continent, including the trans-Mississippi United States, Canada west of Ontario, and all of Mexico. Current research programs address issues of western water supply and management, California constitutional reform, and the social, economic, environmental, and cultural status of the rural West. The Center also sponsors both undergraduate and graduate courses concerning the region, offers student internships as well as research fellowships for visiting scholars and journalists, and organizes lectures, conferences, symposia, media programming, and continuing education programs aimed at a broad public audience.

The Executive Director is the Center’s chief operational, strategic, and development officer, reporting to the Center’s Faculty Directors, David M. Kennedy and Richard White, both in the History Department.

Christensen brings to the executive directorship a deep interest in the West cultivated in his 21 years as an environmental journalist and science writer. His work has appeared in The New York Times, the western regional newspaper High Country News, and many other newspapers, magazines, journals, and public radio and television shows. He was a Knight Professional Journalism Fellow at Stanford in 2002-2003 and a Steinbeck Fellow at San Jose State University in 2003-2004. He is now finishing his Ph.D. in the Department of History at Stanford and has served as Associate Director of the Spatial History Project under the auspices of the Bill Lane Center. His dissertation, “Critical Habitat,” is a history of ideas, narratives, science, land use change, conservation practices, and the extinction of a species – the Bay checkerspot butterfly — in time and space. His broader research and teaching interests include environmental history, natural history, and the history of the biological and ecological sciences, climate change, conservation, and journalism.

Richard White, Christensen’s principal dissertation adviser, said that “Christensen brings to the Bill Lane Center a deep personal familiarity with the West, two decades of experience as a journalist reporting on the region, its environment, and its people, and a scholarly interest in both its past and its future. With his interests in history, public policy, and the contemporary West and its people, he is a perfect fit for the Bill Lane Center.” Kennedy added that “Jon’s creativity and energy, his deep roots in the West and his passion for its landscapes and its fate constitute a fine match with the Bill Lane Center’s mission. We look forward to his long and productive tenure as Executive Director.”

For more information about the Bill Lane Center for the American West visit:

Sue Purdy Pelosi

Publicity and Events

The Bill Lane Center for  the West

Y2E2 Room 347

Stanford University MC 4225


fax( 650) 721-3223

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Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins Keynotes Event at East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy : Thur. Oct. 15

Community, Faith and Labor For a Just Economy

Thursday, October 15, 6:00 PM
Hilton Garden Inn, 1800 Powell St, Emeryville
Keynote Speaker:
Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins
CEO, Green For All

EBASE has forged powerful bridges between truck drivers and environmentalists, congregants and immigrants, and residents and workers, bringing about major victories for working people. While the current crisis poses serious challenges,  together, we can create an economy where workers earn enough to live in dignity. Please join us and celebrate as we set the stage for 10 more years of progress!

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A New Issue of Southern California Quarterly has been published

The Historical Society of Southern California has published a new issue of Southern California Quarterly (Summer 2009, Vol. 91, No. 2).  The contents include the following three articles:

“Keeping Alive the Old Tradition”: Spanish-Mexican Club Women in Southern California, 1880-1940,” by Eileen V. Wallis;

“African-American Leisure Space in Santa Monica: the Beach Sometimes Known as the Inkwell, 1990s – 1960s,” by Alison Rose Jefferson; and

“Delano Diary: the Visual Adventure and Social Documentary Work of Jon Lewis, Photographer of the Delano, California Grape Strike, 1966-1970,” by Richard Steven Street.

There are also six book reviews:

Beebe and Senkewicz, Testimonios: Early California Through the Eyes of Women,
, by Jennifer Gurley;

Horsman, Feast or Famine: Food and Drink in American Westward Expansion, by
Patricia Cleary;

Round, The Impossible Land: Story and Place in California’s Imperial Valley, by
Erik Akenbernd;

Sanchez-Jankowski, Cracks in the Pavement: Social Change and Resilience in Poor
, by Elaine Lewinnek;

Griswold del Castillo, ed., Chicano San Diego: Cultural Space and the Struggle for
, by Jerry Gonzalez; and

Schrank, Art and the City: Civic Imagination and Cultural Authority in Los Angeles, by Thomas W. Devine.

Southern California Quarterly is not published on-line, only in print, but it is well worth joining the Historical Society to receive a subscription to the journal. –Frank Gruber