Global Drylands Center honors Professor Paul Hirt

Portrait of Paul Hirt

The Global Drylands Center honors Professor Paul Hirt’s service as a member of the GDC Executive Board since its inception in 2017. Following 33 years of his academic career, with 16 of those years at Arizona State University, Professor Hirt will be retiring at the end of the Spring 2020 semester.

Paul Hirt is a historian specializing in the American West, environmental history, environmental policy and sustainability studies. Hirt’s publications include a monograph on the history of electric power in the U.S. Northwest and British Columbia, titled “The Wired Northwest” (Univ Press of Kansas, 2012). He also published a history of national forest management since WWII (“A Conspiracy of Optimism,” 1994), and edited two collections of essays on Northwest history (“Terra Pacifica,” 1998 and “Northwest Lands, Northwest Peoples,” 1999). Hirt has also authored more than two dozen articles and book chapters on environmental and western history and policy. His current research projects include collaborative interdisciplinary research on energy transitions, water use and conservation, urban growth and sustainability in southern Arizona, and adaptive management in the Colorado River Basin.

Professor Hirt is involved in many public engagement programs focused on the above topics, including the Smithsonian Museum on Main Street traveling exhibit Water/Ways; an administrative history of the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program funded by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation; renewable energy development for the Navajo Nation; and various water, energy and sustainability initiatives of ASU’s Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability and Global Drylands Center. An example of a completed public history project about the Grand Canyon funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities can be viewed online.

Professor Hirt has served as a book and manuscript reviewer for more than a dozen academic presses and journals and has held positions on several editorial boards and professional association program and prize committees. From 2007-2011, he served on the Executive Committee of the American Society for Environmental History (ASEH) and, from 2011-2015, he served on the editorial board of the journal Environmental History. For several years he chaired ASEH’s Sustainability Committee and its Advisory Board for Professional Development and Public Engagement.

In his private life, Hirt holds an elected position on the board of directors of Salt River Project, one of the nation’s largest nonprofit water and power utilities centered in greater Phoenix, and he is involved with regional conservation organizations, serving on the board of directors of the Sky Island Alliance based in Tucson, Arizona from 2002-2011.