“This workshop was one of the best I have ever participated in…As expected, the workshop provided excellent insights in areas both hoped for as well as that were a surprise! This NEH program was an excellent investment of my time and resources and I have already begun work with what I have learned! Thank you to all who made it possible.”
“I find this workshop to be of the highest NEH quality. I’ve done many Institutes and Seminars and this ranks up with the best of them. I will be using material from two of the presenters immediately in my units on Native American literature and Modernist lit.”
At Hoover Dam and the Shaping of the American West we will explore the societal consequences (positive and negative) of Hoover Dam’s construction. Throughout the program, leading scholars will guide us in a variety of sessions that center on three central themes: technology, environment, and human communities. We will consider such ideas as the role of Hoover Dam in the development of the American southwest, wow Hoover Dam’s construction reflects broader issues of early 20th century American society, and the legacy of Hoover Dam (and other large water infrastructure projects) for future generations.
We will examine archival materials such as letters, photographs, and oral histories. We will get the opportunity to explore the damsite itself, as well as Boulder City, Lake Mead, the Boulder City Museum, the Nevada State Museum, and the special collections archives at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. We will learn about the challenges and triumphs of the construction process, as well as the physical workings of the dam and its distinctive architectural design. We will engage such topics as politics, economics, labor history, civil rights, westward migration, and the environmental legacy of US water policy, all through the lens of Hoover Dam. These topics will serve to show that the story of Hoover Dam can be instructional of a variety of humanities-oriented themes that reach well beyond its celebrated feats of engineering.
The program will run for two weeks, (July 8-20, 2018) beginning on Sunday evening and ending on the following Friday evening. We will combine classroom study, scholarly lectures, site study, reflection, and curricular and research development. Each day will consist of both classroom time and site visits.
Pedagogy and Research Development: Structured time will be provided for educators to reflect on and discuss with each other the topics covered during the sessions. Educators will also explore curriculum integration strategies alongside program faculty, and will share their pedagogical and research initiative ideas at the conclusion of the program.
Site studies: Classroom sessions will be augmented by site studies in which both the natural and built environments of Hoover Dam and its surrounding areas serve as touchstones to draw out larger issues of the dam’s construction. Boulder City, Lake Mead, the Valley of Fire, the Black Canyon damsite, the Boulder City Museum and Historical Association archives, downtown Las Vegas, the UNLV Special Collections archives, the Springs Preserve, and the Nevada State Museum will serve as the sites where educators will gain a better understanding of the history and consequences of Hoover Dam’s construction.
Themes: Over the course of the program we will explore three broad thematic areas that encompass the overarching implications of Hoover Dam’s construction: technology, environment, and human communities. Each of the days will focus on these themes through a purposeful triangulation of topics, people, and physical sites.
Preparation for the Institute: In preparation for the institute, participants will be asked to read a course packet and will be provided two books that will frame the historical and cultural context for Hoover Dam’s construction. The course packet will contain all of the scholarly articles. Participants will also receive a copy of Dr. Anthony F. Arrigo’s Imaging Hoover Dam: The Making of a Cultural Icon (2014), which traces the history of the dam’s visual representations from the earliest illustrations to the documentary photography of its construction and later depictions of the structure in commercial promotions, fine art photography, and paintings. Arrigo tells the story of laborers, women, minority groups, and interactions between nature and technology, all through Hoover Dam’s imagery. They will also receive a copy of Dr. Michael Green’s latest book Nevada: A History of the Silver State, which provides a comprehensive survey of the rich and colorful past of Nevada, including recent developments in Las Vegas.
Participants will be expected to have completed targeted readings for each day’s theme prior to the institute, and to participate in discussions and planned activities throughout the week.
Participants will also be expected to keep daily notes of lessons learned, begin developing a curriculum or research project, discuss teaching ideas with partner educators, and on the last day of the program present to the group their reflections of the week, and their thoughts on topics covered. After the conclusion of the institute, participants will submit resources they have developed to be available for other teachers on this website, and through the NEH’s EDSITEment webpage.
Below are a few frequently asked questions.
- Where will we stay?
- What about the stipend?
- Where can we eat?
- What about transportation?
- Can I bring my family?
- What should I do to prepare?
- Should I bring a laptop computer?
- What should I wear?
- What will we be doing while we’re there?
- What projects are we expected to complete?
- How will I get CE credit?
- How can I get graduate credit?
Where will we stay?
Because most of the days will be spent in or near Boulder City and Hoover Dam, we recommend that you DO NOT stay in downtown Las Vegas or on the Vegas strip. It takes roughly 40 minutes to get from the strip to Boulder City, and you would be required to rent a car for the entire two-week stay and drive back and forth every day.
There are two small hotels in Boulder City (The Boulder Dam Hotel, and the El Rancho Motel) that will serve our participants.
The Boulder Dam Hotel will be the main housing site. However, because it is a historic hotel and has not expanded beyond its original configuration from the 1930s, it cannot accommodate all of the participants, staff, and invited scholars at the same time.
We have reserved the entire Boulder Dam Hotel for the two-week duration of the program. Rooms are available on a first-come-first served basis. Please note that the Boulder Dam Hotel is a historic building and so the rooms are small and there is only one bed per room. The hotel is quite nice, though, and the staff is very friendly and helpful. Breakfast is included with your stay. More details about the hotel are available on their website (below).
Boulder Dam Hotel Website (select “reservations” in the top right):
Phone: (702) 293-3510
In addition to the Boulder Dam Hotel, you can also stay at the El Rancho Motel, which is one block away. The El Rancho has a pool, as well as multi-bed and kitchenette options, which the Boulder Dam Hotel does not. The El Rancho gets good ratings from travelers and past participants, and is situated next door to a southwestern diner. Here are some reviews: https://goo.gl/CJ56s5
Participants will be awarded a stipend of $1200 at the end of the program, which is intended to offset the costs of travel, housing, and meals. Please note that we cannot provide any funds up-front. You will have to make your arrangements ahead of time and receive the stipend upon completion of the program.
Participants are required to attend all meetings and to engage fully as professionals in the work of the program. During your tenure, you may not undertake teaching assignments or any other professional activities unrelated to your participation.
Participants who, for any reason, do not complete the full duration of the institute and all of its requirements will receive a pro-rata portion of the stipend, and stipend checks will be significantly delayed.
Where can we eat?
There are many restaurants within walking distance in Boulder City. There are also some instances in which we will be away from civilization and bag lunches will be provided. We will discuss lunch preferences at the beginning of the week.
Here are some of the available options: https://goo.gl/BO9Y73
What about transportation?
The program starts on Sunday evening, around 5:30 at the restaurant at the Boulder Dam Hotel. The welcome address by Dr. Anthony Arrigo will start around 6:00 p.m. In order to make it for the start of the instutute, you should try to arrive in Las Vegas by no later than 3:30 p.m. on Sunday.
If you are flying, you should go to McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. We will work with participants to arrange transportation to and from the airport. We cannot, however, guarantee that we can provide transportation for every person. If you are unable to make it for one of the shuttles or carpools, you can also take a taxi or Uber service.
Can I bring my Family?
We highly recommend that you do not consider this a family vacation. We will be busy from morning to night, with non-stop activities during the day, and planned activities on three of the evenings. There will be no time for family adventures or activities during the days, and limited time in the evenings.
What should I do to prepare for the workshop?
The most important thing to do is to complete all of the readings for the workshop ahead of time (Please note that you do not need to print out the .pdf readings, a reading packet will be mailed to you. See below). Leading scholars in American History, Women’s History, the Hoover Dam, the history of the American West, Architecture, Native American Studies, and more are invited to share their life’s work with us. In order for you to get the most out of the workshop, you should be prepared to engage these scholars with questions and comments that advance everyone’s knowledge.
Additionally, you should begin thinking about how you will use this workshop to enhance your own curriculum or research, and specific things that you want to take away from the program. Be prepared to ask questions and engage in dialogue.
Should I bring a laptop computer?
Many of the workshop days will be spent in archives, museums, or out in the field where laptops would be impractical, and leaving them on the bus would be a liability risk. If you do bring computers, you alone are responsible for them. A notebook and pen will be provided for you to take notes over the course of the week. There will be times, however, particularly during the curriculum/research development sessions where a laptop might come in handy for you.
What should I wear?
It will be very, very hot during the day and some time will be spent outside each day. We will also be doing quite a lot of walking. You should plan to bring comfortable shoes, hats with wide brims, sunscreen, sunglasses, and cool clothes.
However, we will also spend time in libraries, archives, and meeting rooms so you may wish to bring a light sweater or long sleeved shirt for the times we are in air conditioning. All attire will be informal.
What will we be doing while we’re there?
A detailed scheduled is on the website and will be provided for you upon your arrival at the workshop. Many days begin with a lecture/discussion from a visiting scholar. We will also be taking side trips to Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, Valley of Fire, Springs Preserve, UNLV, downtown Las Vegas, and the Nevada State Museum, as well as a walking tour of Boulder City. We also have time allocated most days to work on your own.
Participants will also be asked to fill out evaluation forms each day to help us better understand how the days events are received and to take care of any potential problems as quickly as possible.
At the end of the project’s residential period, NEH Institute participants will be asked to submit online evaluations in which they review their work during the summer and assess its value to their personal and professional development. These evaluations will become part of the project’s grant file.
What projects are we expected to complete?
At the end of the week, you will be expected to give a short presentation/talk on what you learned over the course of the week and how you plan to use your knowledge to enhance your curriculum and/or research.