OAH Distinguished Lecturer Profile

Patrick Allitt

Portrait of Patrick Allitt

Born and raised in England, Patrick Allitt graduated from Oxford University, then earned a doctorate in U.S. history from the University of California, Berkeley. He is currently Cahoon Family Professor of American History at Emory University and the author of seven books, including A Climate of Crisis: America in the Age of Environmentalism (2014) and The Conservatives: Ideas and Personalities throughout American History (2010). He has also recorded eight lecture series with The Great Courses®‎, including "The Industrial Revolution" (36 lectures) and "The Art of Teaching" (24 lectures).

Featured Lecture

OAH Lectures

This lecture describes the work of outstanding American environmentalists, including Theodore Roosevelt, Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, Edward Abbey, and Dave Foreman. It places them in historical context and shows how they argued with their contemporaries about how to care for the natural world.
The idea of the end of the world has been central to American history since the Puritans. After the atomic bombs of 1945 it became possible to imagine that the world would be destroyed not by an angry God but by human folly. Fears over nuclear weapons and then over environmental issues like pollution, over-population, and resource exhaustion led to a succession of alarms in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, culminating in recent expressions of dread that global warming will be apocalyptic. This lecture reviews the history of environmental alarms to show their continuity with the jeremiad tradition and older forms of American catastrophism.
Most history students will not become professional historians. So what should we emphasize when we teach college-level history classes? Some teachers emphasize information; others emphasize the concept of thinking historically. This lecture makes the case for traditional methods while taking advantage of modern technologies.
The conservative intellectual movement in America after 1945 emphasized anti-Communism, defense of the free market, religious values, and faith in tradition. Its leading writers felt a tension between radical individualism on the one hand and defense of community on the other, a tension that was never fully resolved. In this lecture, Professor Allitt, author of "The Conservatives: Ideas and Personalities Throughout American History," explores the key individuals and ideas in the post-World War II era.