I write and teach U.S. history at the University of Washington in Seattle. I've written about Silicon Valley, national politics, economic globalization, postindustrial cities, and higher education. My current research examines the technology industry's impact on politics, culture, and place since 1970.
In addition to my academic work, I work with government, business, and civic organizations on projects exploring how innovation drives growth and change. Most recently, I was the lead curatorial advisor to the Bezos Center for Innovation at Seattle's Museum of History and Industry.
I am an OAH Distinguished Lecturer, hold leadership roles in the Social Science History Association and the Urban History Association, and was a fellow of the National Forum on the Future of Liberal Education. I received my MA/PhD in History from the University of Pennsylvania and my BA from Northwestern.
In academic year 2014-15, I'll be in residence at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford.
This website links to some of my writing and commentary and highlights some of my current projects. For the full download, here's my current CV.
Pivotal Tuesdays: Four Elections that Shaped the Twentieth Century (Penn Press, 2015). Serious and silly, unifying and polarizing, presidential elections have become events that Americans love and hate. Pivotal Tuesdays looks back at four pivotal presidential elections of the past 100 years to show how they shaped the twentieth century. Exploring the personalities, critical moments, and surprises of the elections of 1912, 1932, 1968, and 1992, this book shows how elections are windows into changing economic times and how history is made when ordinary people cast their ballots.
Cities of Knowledge: Cold War Science and Search for the Next Silicon Valley (Princeton University Press, 2005). Focusing on the years 1945 to 1970, Cities of Knowledge shows the complex bundle of public and private forces that drove high-tech innovation and determined the very particular geography of high-tech regions. Many places have tried to become "the next Silicon Valley." This book shows how and why this has proved to be so difficult. You can read the Introduction here.
"The Environmental Contradictions of High-Tech Urbanism," in Now Urbanism: The Future City is Here, ed. Jeff Hou, Ben Spencer, Thaisa Way, and Ken Yocum (Routledge, 2014)
"The Uses of the Foreign Student," Social Science History 36:4 (December 2012)
“Cities and Suburbs” (invited; conceptual essay), The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Social History, ed. Lynn Dumenil (Oxford University Press, 2012)
“Silicon Valleys,” Boom: A Journal of California 1:2 (June 2011).
“Beyond Town and Gown: University Economic Development and the Legacy of the Urban Crisis,” The Journal of Technology Transfer, August 2010.
“Landscapes of Knowledge: History and the Evolving Geography of High Technology,” Places 19:1 (Spring 2007).
“Cold War Politics and Scientific Communities: The Case of Silicon Valley,” Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, May 2006.
“Uncovering the City in the Suburb,” in The New Suburban History, edited by Kevin Kruse and Thomas J. Sugrue. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, May 2006.
“Suburbia Reconsidered: Race, Politics, and Property in the Twentieth-Century Metropolis,” Journal of Social History (September 2005).
“Creativity, Community, Innovation: The University District and the University of Washington,” Seattle, December 2011.
“Don’t Try this at Home,” Foreign Policy, September/October 2010.
“Not So Fast: Some Presidents Overcome Their Midterm Slump,” Seattle Times, 21 June 2010.
“Welfare as We Knew It,” BlackPast.org, September 2009.
Contributor, Crosscut.com: “We are Not the ‘Next Silicon Valley’” (18 February 2008); “Seattle’s Transportation Malaise is Nothing Special” (3 January 2008); “Amazon Joins the Parade of Tech to the Urban Core” (20 December 2008).
“Schwarzenegger: The Newest Progressive,” with Jon Christensen, High Country News, March 2005.
“Learning from History: How State and Local Policy Choices Have Shaped Philadelphia’s Growth.”Greater Philadelphia Regional Review, March 2002.
“Moving Beyond Sprawl: The Challenge for Metropolitan Atlanta.” Washington: The Brookings Institution, 2000.
“Barriers to Work: the Spatial Divide between Jobs and Welfare Recipients in Metropolitan Areas.” Washington: The Brookings Institution, 1998.
Want to understand better how to do it? Some of my previously collected resources for undergraduate research and writing can be found here.
I was the lead curatorial advisor for the Bezos Center for Innovation, which opened in the fall of 2013 at Seattle's Museum of History and Industry. The project uses the story of Seattle innovators - from industry, politics, arts, and philanthopy - to explore the histories of invention and creativity, and better understand how and why innovation grows in particular places.
"In Seattle, Virtual University will Have a Physical Campus, Too," The New York Times, October 2012
"Creating the Next Silicon Valley in Chicago," PRI's Marketplace, October 2012
"What Joe Biden and Paul Ryan Can Learn from the History Books," Pacific Standard, October 2012
"Tech and the City," Next City, September 2012
"The Grand Coulee Dam," PBS's American Experience, April 2012
"The Next Silicon Valley," UWTV's Mediaspace, November 2010