Monday, April 19, 2010

UW panel discusses Wyoming's new "Code of the West"

The University of Wyoming sometimes has its finger on the pulse of topical events.

And sometimes not.

But I'm hoping I can get to this panel discussion on Wyoming's new legislatively-mandated "Code of the West."

You might remember that I wrote a satiric column about the new code way back in February. It was reprinted on the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle's op-ed page.

The topic continues to fascinate --

Cowboy ethicist Jim Owen's "Code of the West" will be the focus of a panel discussion Tuesday, April 27, at the University of Wyoming in Laramie.

The free event, coordinated by the UW American Heritage Center's (AHC) Alan K. Simpson Institute for Western Politics and Leadership, will begin at 5 p.m. in Room 129 of the Classroom Building.

The panel will include Owen, founder of the Denver-based Center for Cowboy Ethics and Leadership and director of "Code of the West," which last month was signed into law as the official Wyoming state code; Sam Western, a Sheridan-based author; and David Wrobel, chair of the Department of History at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

The discussion will bring varied points of view to the questions of whether the cowboy appeal and image is helpful to our region or whether it hinders economic growth and cultural development. Or does it do both?

The speakers will also discuss the historical roots of the cowboy appeal and why Owen's code has achieved such popularity, and, in some cases, criticism, by co-opting that appeal.

Peter K. Simpson, UW's Distinguished Simpson Professor in Political Science Wyoming Politics, Policy and Culture, will moderate the panel discussion.

The AHC's Alan K. Simpson Institute for Western Politics and Leadership focuses on the acquisition, preservation and research use of the papers of prominent individuals who and businesses and organizations that have provided leadership -- political, economic, social and cultural -- for Wyoming and the Rocky Mountain West.

For more information, contact the AHC at (307) 766-4114 or go to the official Web site at

Some thoughtful people on the panel. Sam Western is at UW this semester teaching Wyoming business history. He wrote a memorably scathing book about his state, "Pushed Off the Mountain, Sold Down the River." Sam also writes for The Economist. I'm sure he'll have some interesting comments about the code.

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