Story posted May 11, 2006
Assistant Professor of History and Environmental Studies Matthew Klingle has been named the recipient of the 2006 Sydney B. Karofsky Prize for Junior Faculty. The award was announced at the College's Honors Day ceremony on May 10, 2006.
The award is given annually to "an outstanding Bowdoin teacher who best demonstrates the ability to impart knowledge, inspire enthusiasm, and stimulate intellectual curiosity."
The highly prestigious award is conferred by the Dean for Academic Affairs in consultation with the Committee on Appointments, Promotion and Tenure, on the basis of student evaluations of teaching.
"This is a great and unexpected honor," said Klingle, "especially given the fact that I teach at an institution with so many talented colleagues who take their teaching and research seriously, making both central to their lives."
Klingle is an expert on the history of the American city and the North American West. His book, “Emerald City: An Environmental History of Seattle and an Evolving Ethic of Place,” is forthcoming from the Yale University Press. His work as an environmental historian has enriched Bowdoin’s curriculum with highly popular courses, including “Environment and Culture in North American History,” "The City as American History," and “Green Injustice: Environment and Equity in North American History.”
Klingle’s passion for his subject, and for research, is contagious to students. He encourages them to understand attitudes and times different from their own by analyzing primary documents such as diaries, newspaper articles, photographs and letters. "My task is a delicate one," noted Klingle. "I want students to keep their youthful idealism, yet develop a reasoned and critical perspective on history and how the past intersects with our complex relationship to the natural world through time.”
In several of his environmental history courses, Klingle has helped students to widen their perspectives through service-learning projects, matching them up with community organizations where they do research-based tasks related to environmental issues.
“Students in my service-learning classes have worked with close to a dozen community organizations stretching from Damariscotta to York,” noted Klingle. “They have interpreted old fire insurance maps, gone into the field to interview elders, charted the environmental history of imperiled properties throughout the Midcoast region. They are learning how to communicate to diverse audiences why the past matters in what seem to be urgent present-day concerns.”
Klingle earned his B.A. in History from the University of California, Berkeley, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in History from University of Washington. He joined the Bowdoin faculty in 2001.
The Karofsky Prize is given by members of the Karofsky family, including Peter S. Karofsky, M.D. '62, Paul I. Karofsky '66, and David M. Karofsky '93, to honor distinction in teaching by untenured members of the faculty.