Alyssa Kreikemeier is a scholar, writer, and educator whose work explores the relationships between humans and their environments. Despite growing up on a farm in Southwestern Montana, she took the big skies of the Mountain West for granted until they closed in above her in Cambridge, MA, where she relocated for graduate school. Longing for expansive landscapes and dark nights drove her to study the different ways communities relate to the environment through an American Studies PhD at Boston University.
Alyssa’s environmental scholarship grew out of a broader interest in how communities fashion identities in relationship with place and a love of creative community engagement. These commitments guided her work in educational programming over five years working in schools,community centers, and public art spaces from New Mexico to Massachusetts. Alyssa completed her Ed.M. at the Harvard Graduate School of Education while conducting qualitative research on intercultural exchange at Project Zero. Her thesis examined media and representation through Youth Participatory Action Research in a contemporary arts organization.
Alyssa’s dissertation, Aerial Enclosures: From Commons to Conflict in the American West, demonstrates how the atmosphere aided and subverted efforts to colonize and control the lands, peoples, and airs of the twentieth-century U.S. West. It unsettles the trajectory of imperial expansion and renders the air legible as a historical subject. Aerial Encounters shows how air affected key twentieth-century developments, from health seeking and aviation to nuclear weapons and pollution. It is a story intimate as breath and vast as climate, and one that shifts our attention skyward as the climate crisis demands that we relate differently with the atmosphere.
This atmospheric story explores questions about how knowledge is produced where the human and non-human meet. It considers perception, non-linear relationships, and epistemologies of scale. The project asks what it means to know something through its traces, and how interpretation can cross registers. Aerial Enclosures has been supported by the Autry Museum of the American West, the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies, Humanities Without Walls, and the American Society for Environmental History.
Alyssa’s scholarship has been published with Routledge, Digital Culture and Education, and Teachers College Record. Her writing has appeared in cyberspace at MIT’s Center for Civic Media, Environmental History Now, and Project Zero’s Out of Eden Learn. Alyssa has taught students of all ages and is passionate about experiential learning. When not researching, writing, or teaching, she can be found roaming the mountains and high desert with her four-legged friend Bernadette.