History Institute Connects Campus Faculty, K-12 Teachers

Mary Wilson lectures Dec. 12

Four history department professors will present lectures on contemporary issues to K-12 teachers as part of the annual History Institute developed in partnership with the Collaborative for Educational Services.

At each session throughout the course of the year-long institute, a history department faculty member talks about a topic of interest to K-12 teachers, and following the lecture, master teachers from the Collaborative for Educational Services lead a workshop on how to integrate the content into K-12 classrooms. This year’s institute is on contemporary issues in historical context and includes workshops on the Syrian civil war, oil and human rights, American exceptionalism and climate change.

All sessions are free and open to the public and will take place from 4:30-7 p.m. at the Collaborative for Educational Services, 97 Hawley St., Northampton. Registered participants who complete all four sessions and an additional writing assignment can receive $100 stipends and 12 PPDs.

This year’s theme, “contemporary events and historical perspectives,” was inspired by the history department’s new blog, Past@Present, which features entries by faculty and graduate students on the historical origins of contemporary events. Video recordings of this year’s History Institute talks will be available on the history department’s blog and website. 

The schedule is as follows:

Professor Mary Wilson, “Syria: The Middle of the Middle East,” Dec. 12. Participants will explore the region called the Middle East and the conceptual changes that have defined what this region may include since the term was first used in Britain and the United States. Wilson will discuss the realms of global strategy, geography, religions and peoples of the area. Since Syria lies at its center, Wilson will examine how global strategy, geography, religions and peoples have played out in the civil war since 2011.

Professor Audrey Altstadt, “Energy and Human Rights in the Caspian Basin,” Jan. 23. The oil and gas-producing states around the Caspian Sea—Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran—have poor human rights records but the U.S. and European Union need their energy resources. For the U.S., as frequent champion of human rights and democratic rule, this dichotomy presents a philosophical and political dilemma. This presentation will examine energy and human rights in the region and view up close a few cases illustrating Western preference for energy security over human rights.

Professor Chris Appy, “Who We Are: The Vietnam War and the End of ‘American Exceptionalism,’” March 27. “American exceptionalism” was a core tenet of national identity since the 17th century. Promoters of the creed have insisted that the U.S. was unrivaled not only in its resources, wealth, and military might, but in its values and institutions, its rights and opportunities. And unlike other powerful nations, the U.S. was said to act always as a force for good in the world. This talk explores how the Vietnam War posed fundamental challenges to the faith in American exceptionalism. Appy will also examine post-Vietnam efforts to revive it.

Professor David Glassberg, “Learning from American Environmental History,” May 8. Studying environmental history offers middle and high school students insights into the ways that past generations of Americans imagined and shaped the land, as well as helps students to understand the roots of the current environmental crises that they are inheriting. The workshop will explore various topics in American environmental history as represented by documents, prints and photographs, and motion pictures available online through the Library of Congress and other repositories.

The 2013-14 institute is supported by a Teaching American History grant from the U.S. Department of Education and by the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Program at the Collaborative for Educational Services. 

For more information, contact Suzanne Judson-Whitehouse, assistant director, Collaborative for Educational Services Emerging America Program, 586-4900, x162 or sjudsonwhitehouse@collaborative.org, or Jessica Johnson, history department outreach director, 545-6760, johnson@history.umass.edu.