Our Mission & Vision

The Center of the American West is a recognized hub for illuminating the role of the western United States in regional, national and global issues. We bring people together to explore the ongoing complexities of and challenges facing the western United States through education, research, programs, and projects.

Our Guiding Values, Princples, and Strategic Priorities

Guided by our values and principles of Inclusivity, Community, Commitment, Collaboration, and Curiosity, our strategic priorities are to (1) educate students, (2) enable research collaborations, (3) connect with our CU Boulder campus community, and to (4) engage with audiences and stakeholders in Colorado and beyond.

Our Programs

In our Academic Programs, we sponsor a wide range of opportunities, giving students the chance to venture beyond classrooms and textbooks and to interact with leading scholars, writers, public servants, and faculty members. These opportunities include our Western American Studies Certificate ProgramGrace Kempton Student DinnersInternshipsHoffman ScholarsThompson Awards for Western American Writing, and the Beardsley Family Scholarship.

Our Projects and Publications

The Center of the American West works on a variety of regional issues as diverse as the West itself. They include energy, immigration, public landswater, wildfire, and much more! We have a library of Resources to help the public navigate the often complicated underlying issues we face.

In addition, the Center has published numerous books, including the influential Atlas of the New West, and a series of lively, balanced, and to-the-point reports on compelling Western issues, including The Nation Possessed Hydraulic Fracturing GlossaryGlosario del Fracturamiento Hidráulico, What Every Westerner Should Know About EnergyCleaning Up Abandoned Hardrock Mines in the WestK-12 Education Resource Sets and What Every Westerner Should Know About Energy Efficiency and Conservation. Our film, The Lover’s Guide to the West, chronicles the past, present, and future of America’s love affair with energy. 


CU Boulder’s Center of the American West was founded in 1986 by Patty Limerick, and CU Law Professor Charles Wilkinson. In 2022, Tom Zeiler became the interim Faculty Director.