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The Mellema Program: Courses, Library Materials, Publications

Calvin College Courses

The Mellema Program sponsors a variety of courses taught regularly. William Katerberg teaches History 358, an advanced topics course that in the past has focused on comparative frontiers and on the history of violence and power in the American West. Currently, History 358 is being taught as Native American History; the next offering of the course will likely be in the 2015-16 academic year. Most years, Katerberg also teaches History 257 (Spring 2015), a general survey of the American West.

Other departments also have taught courses sponsored by the Mellema Program, which has provided course development grants. In recent years during the May Interim, Gerald Van Kooten and Ralph Stearley have taught Geology 153, “Big Sky Geology: Montana Field Experience,” an off-campus version of Geology 151, “Introduction to Geology.” In addition, Jamie Skillen teaches environmental studies courses that included significant coverage of the American West.

In Fall 2013, William Katerberg taught ENST 302, "Environment and Society." The course examines a variety of themes, looking at cultural attitudes, government policies, economic development, and scientific questions. In teaching the course, Katerberg uses case studies and examples set in the North American West.

Library Collection

Calvin College’s library now holds one of the largest collections of Western American studies material in Michigan. In addition to recent scholarship on the American West, the library includes a significant amount of work on the Canadian West and North. It also includes runs of major journals that focus on the West, notably the Western History Quarterly, Pacific Historical Review, Journal of the West, and Montana: Magazine of Western History.

The library is also rich in primary sources from the nineteenth century, notably significant portions of material from microfilm collections such as Western Americana, History of the Pacific Northwest, The Plains and Rockies, Travels in the West and Southwest, and History of the Canadian Northwest. Descriptions of this material on microfilm can be found at the library website.


Director of the Mellema Program William Katerberg's study of science fiction novels and films set in the American West was published in October 2008 under the title Future West: Utopia and Apocalypse in Frontier Science Fiction (University Press of Kansas, 2008). The book debuted at the Western History Association and American Studies Association conferences in the Fall of 2008.

Katerberg also cowrote a history textbook with Carol Higham of Davidson College in North Carolina, Conquests & Consequences: The American West from Frontier to Region (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009). It debuted at the Fall 2009 meetings of the Western Historical Association. Katerberg and Higham are continuing work on coediting additional volumes in the series. Currently in development are volumes on environmental history in the West and on religion in the West, which should be completed in 2014.


Go Deeper

Our programs and centers enable students to minor in diverse areas including Archaeology, African Studies, Asian Studies, Gender Studies, Latin American Studies, Medieval Studies, and International Development.

Calvin also hosts the H. Henry Meeter Center, North America’s premier research collection devoted to the writings of John Calvin and early Calvinists; the Colonial Origins Collection, a rich store of materials pertaining to Dutch emigration, the Christian Reformed Church, and related institutions; and the new Mellema Program in Western American Studies for studies in the American and Canadian West.

Mellema Program
in Western American Studies

History Department
Calvin College
1845 Knollcrest Circle SE
Grand Rapids, MI

Director: William Katerberg
(616) 526-6047