Kathleen Brosnan earned a J.D. from the University of Illinois and a Ph.D. in history from the University of Chicago. Her research and teaching interests include the American West, U.S. and transnational environmental history, legal history, urban history, public history, and the history of activism. She is the author of Uniting Mountain and Plain: Cities, Law and Environmental Change along the Front Range (2002) and numerous articles and book chapters. Brosnan edited the prize-winning Encyclopedia of American Environmental History (2010). She has co-edited five books: City Dreams, Country Schemes: Community and Identity in the American West (2011); Energy Capitals: Global Influence, Local Impact (2014); City of Lake and Prairie: Chicago’s Environmental History (2020); Mapping Nature Across the Americas (2020); and The Greater Plains: Rethinking a Region’s Environmental Histories (2021). Brosnan is writing an environmental history on the Napa wine industry.
As a public historian, she has worked on projects with the National Park Service, the Newberry Library, the American Library Association, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Brosnan directed an online exhibit, To Bear Fruit for Our Race: The History of African American Physicians in Houston, which has been utilized by more than 300 middle and high schools. She co-wrote and co-directed a nominated documentary, The University of Houston: War and Growth, 1939-1950, and consulted on the environmental history documentary series, Notes from the Field.
Brosnan is a past president of the American Society for Environmental History. She chaired the Society’s Committee on Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity from 2017-2023; she remains a member of the committee.. She also has held or holds elected positions with the American Historical Association, the Western History Association, and the International Consortium of Environmental History Organizations. Brosnan has been co-principal investigator on two grants from the National Science Foundation and co-principal investigator for two summer institutes at the Newberry Library sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Brosnan has shared her scholarship across the United State and in Canada, Brazil, Sweden, Denmark, England, France, Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Israel.