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brian leech

Brian J. Leech

Associate Professor of History, Chair

Brian Leech is an environmental historian of North American regions, including the American West and the Midwest.

Leech teaches courses about U.S. history, the environment, health and public history as well as courses in Augustana’s First-Year Inquiry sequence. He also co-directs Augustana’s Experiential Minor in Food Studies.

Students in Leech’s courses have crafted short documentaries about a labor strike, created pop-up exhibits on college history, and built a digital history map for a local neighborhood. Read more about Leech’s teaching in this discussion by Augustana Vice President Kent Barnds.

Leech’s research focuses on the history of natural resources, energy, and food. In 2019, his book The City That Ate Itself: Butte, Montana and Its Expanding Berkeley Pit (University of Nevada Press) received the biennial Clark C. Spence Award for the best book in mining history from the Mining History Association. He also has conducted research on nuclear power, urban agriculture, and the development of high fructose corn syrup.

Leech currently is working on two projects. One looks at the portrayal of mining in popular culture and the other investigates the history of speed limits.

→ More on Dr. Brian Leech’s scholarship.

→ About Dr. Leech and links to some of his students' projects

Specializations: Environmental history, North American West, Mining, Labor, Masculinity, Ethnicity, Advising, Oral history, Film, Public history, Food studies


  • B.A., University of Montana
  • M.A., Ph.D., Wisconsin-Madison