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Everything has a backstory. Nothing is unprecedented. Digging into the past is one of the best ways to understand the present.

Andrew Baker, Ph.D.

  • Faculty

Associate Professor, Graduate Adviser

A native of Virginia, Andrew Baker studies environmental history and the metropolitan South. He earned his Ph.D. from Rice University before moving to Commerce with his wife and three kids. He currently serves as the Graduate Advisor for the Department of History. When he isn’t teaching or writing, Baker spends his time reading and rambling across the countryside.

A Conversation with Dr. Baker

What has been your favorite course to teach?

“My favorite courses are ones that require intellectual risks combined with lots of hard work. This was true for Forrest Gump’s America where we spent a semester unraveling questions about American history and identity raised by this seemingly simple movie. The students chose not to settle for easy answers. We wandered off the map, where the best learning happens.”

Tell us about a project you are working on or have completed.

“I am currently working on an environmental history of arsenic that traces this dangerous element from mines in Montana, El Paso, and Arizona to copper smelters in Washington State to cotton fields in Texas and Oklahoma. Because arsenic cannot be destroyed, it has a complicated history of being concentrated, dispersed, mined, and buried. Ultimately I am studying how we have dealt with one of the most prominent contaminants in the United States.”

What would you tell a student who is thinking about attending A&M-Commerce?

“Dive in! This campus is full of wonderful opportunities and experiences that you won’t find at a larger university or in an online ‘classroom.’ Get out into the campus. Visit your professor’s office hours. Study in the library or the student center. Read a book under a tree. Enjoy the beautiful campus we have here.”

Educational Background

  • Ph.D., History, Rice University, 2014
  • MA, American History, James Madison University, 2009
  • BA, History, Grove City College, 2007

Academic Positions

  • Associate Professor, History, Texas A&M University-Commerce, 2015-present
  • Lecturer, Middle Tennessee State University, 2014-2015

Awards and Honors

  • Augustine “Chuck” Arize Junior Faculty Award, A&M-Commerce, 2019
  • Honors Teacher of the Year, Honors College, A&M-Commerce, 2019

Research Interests

  • Twentieth-Century United States
  • Agricultural, Rural and Environmental History
  • Metropolitan and Suburban History
  • Oral History and Memory

Professional Organizations

  • Editorial Board Member, Agricultural History
  • Southern Historical Association
  • Texas State Historical Association

Selected Publications

  • Bulldozer Revolutions: A Rural History of the Metropolitan South, University of Georgia Press, Environmental History and the American South Series, 2018.
  • “Risk, Doubt, and the Biological Control of Southern Waters,” Environmental History 24, No. 2 (April 2019): 327-50.
  • “Suburban Strife and the Perils of Municipal Incorporation in Texas,” In Lone Star Suburbs: Life on the Texas Metropolitan Frontier, edited by Paul J.P. Sandul and M. Scott Sosebee, 68-94. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2019.
  • “Metropolitan Growth along the Nation’s River: Power, Waste and Environmental Politics in a Northern Virginia County, 1943-1971,” Journal of Urban History 43, No. 5 (September 2017): 703-19.

Featured Courses

UNCO 1301 Where are You?
History 1302 U.S. History from 1865
History 264 Forrest Gump’s America
History 457 Metropolitan History
History 466 Oral History Theory and Methods
History 554 Colloquium in US Post 1920
History 564 Intro to Public History
History 591 Historical Research and Writing

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