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The History Institute


Since 1994, the UMass Amherst History Department has hosted events, workshops and in-service trainings for and with K-12 teachers in Western Massachusetts. The Department's signature offering is "The History Institute," an annual series of workshops organized around a central theme. Information about the 2023-2024 Institute will be announced in the fall of 2023.

Prior Institutes

2022-2023 | Teaching Empire

As K-12 educators, how can we center imperialism in our teaching of U.S. history, politics, and culture? Offered as part of the UMass Amherst History Department’s 2022-2023 Feinberg Series, this yearlong workshop series aims to guide K-12 educators in deepening our analysis and discussions of U.S.’s role in the world and the ways in which we make these connections with our students. Exploring the theme Confronting Empire, the Feinberg Series brings together world renowned scholars, journalists, writers, community organizers, and survivors of state violence to examine global histories of U.S. imperialism and anti-imperialist resistance. Designed for teachers of all grade levels and subject areas, this four-part companion series offers opportunities to dive into learnings from Feinberg Series speakers, to reimagine our curriculum with corresponding primary sources, and to integrate interdisciplinary pedagogy into our teaching. Teachers will create materials to help support students in thinking critically about colonization, empire and U.S. foreign policy, from the origins of the U.S. to the present. Read more.

2020-2021 | Teaching on a Precipice: Empowering Student / Teacher Partnerships for Climate Justice

This workshop series was offered alongside the 2020-2021 Feinberg Family Distinguished Lecture Series, Planet on a Precipice: Histories and Futures of the Environmental Emergency, a free online event series from the UMass Amherst History Department. The events feature dleading historians, scholars, filmmakers and organizers from the environmental movement exploring the climate and environmental emergency in historical perspective. This complementary set of educator workshops sought to support teachers in varied contexts and disciplines in integrating environmental studies into our teaching, in deepening our collective learnings from the Feinberg Series speakers, and in building student / teacher partnerships for climate justice. Facilitated by social justice educators Romina Pacheco and Safire DeJong. More information.

2019-2020 | Culturally Sustaining Pedagogies and Teaching for Black Lives

The 2019-2020 history institute explored culturally sustaining pedagogy -- described by education scholar Django Paris as a way for educators to support racial, cultural, and linguistic diversity in the classroom, which is a form of social justice education -- and it looked to African American history to deepen our collective understanding of present day issues. It was offered in partnership with Keisha L. Green (Department of Teacher Education and Curriculum Studies, UMass) and featured guest lectures by Brittany Frederick (Department of History, UMass), Toussaint Losier (W.E.B. DuBois Department of Afro-American Studies, UMass), and Erika Slocumb (W.E.B. DuBois Department of Afro-American Studies and Public History Program, UMass) and a keynote address by the co-editors of Teaching for Black Lives, Dyan Watson (Lewis and Clark) and Wayne Au (University of Washington). More information

2018-2019 | Another World Is Possible: Teaching for Liberation

This year's history institute was offered in conjunction with the 2018 Feinberg Family Distinguished Lecture Series, Another World Is Possible: Teaching for Liberation, an event series that brought together movement leaders and scholars in critical conversation about the revolutionary visions that have propelled political transformation. Educators attended six Feinberg Series events and two additional workshops with social justice educators Safire DeJong and Ousmane Power-Greene, and completed a final reflective project. Offered with the Collaborative for Educational Services.

2017-2018 | Assorted Programs

James Baldwin on Film, on the Page, and in the Classroom

This two-part workshop on the life and work of James Baldwin was offered in collaboration with the Western Mass Writers Project and the James Baldwin Project. The first session focused on why to teach Baldwin, the second on how. The first meeting featured a screening and discussion of the film The Price of the Ticket, which includes numerous interviews with Baldwin. The second involved discussion of a short piece of Baldwin’s writing and strategies for teaching it.

Book Group: Moth and Wasp, Soil and Ocean

A National Consortium for Teaching about Asia (NCTA) online book group for K-6 teachers on Moth and Wasp, Soil and Ocean: Remembering Chinese Scientist Pu Zhelong's Work for Sustainable Farming by UMass Amherst History Professor Sigrid Schmalzer. This picture book is suitable for both lower and upper elementary school students. Participants read the book, contributed to online discussions, and joined a webinar with the author. The online book group is administered by the Five College Center for East Asian Studies (FCCEAS) in collaboration with the History Institute.

2016-2017 | Teaching in the Age of Mass Incarceration

Using sociohistorical and interdisciplinary perspectives to understand mass incarceration in the United States, this series explored concepts and practical examples for the classroom. This year's series was offered in conjunction with the 2016-2017 Feinberg Family Distinguished Lecture Series, which was an event series addressing how state violence, mass incarceration, and mass criminalization have transformed the U.S. economy, culture and society. Participating teachers attended 8 Feinberg Series lectures and other events, participated in four 90-minute teachers seminars facilitated by Dr. Antonio Nieves Martinez, and developed lesson plans for their classrooms. Workshops included presentations by local teachers and by members of Pa'lante Restorative Justice at Holyoke High School. The series culiminated in a public curriculum share in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

2015-2016 | The 1960s and Beyond in Historical Perspective: Social Justice and Equality in Local Context

This year's History Insitute was a collaboration with the Smith College’s Sophia Smith Collection, UMass Amherst Special Collections and University Archives, and Wistariahurst Museum and Archive. Each session was held at an archive and will focused on local histories of activism and social change from the 1960s, 70s and 80s, including local women's movements, the Latino community organizing in Holyoke, and the creation of communes and utopian communities in rural Western Massachusetts. Participants worked with primary sources from the archives and online sources from the Library of Congress and created lesson plans to bring these events and primary sources into local classrooms. Presenters included Kathleen Nutter Ph.D. (Historian and Archivist, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College), Maria Cartagena (Historian, Board Member and Community Organizer, Wistariahurst Museum), Penni Martorell (Archivist and City Historian, Wistariahurst Museum), and Rob Cox Ph.D. (Head of Special Collections, UMass Du Bois Library Special Collections and University Archives and Adjunct Professor, UMass Amherst Department of History).

2015-2016 | Migration Matters: Immigration in the Modern Americas

This year's History Institute was offered in conjunction with the 2015-2016 Feinberg Family Distinguished Lecture Series, which explored migration in the modern Americas. Participants attended Feinberg Series lectures with scholars from across the U.S., as well as sessions with UMass Amherst immigration historians. Professor Jennifer Fronc led a session on teaching immigration history with visual sources, and Professor Julio Capó, Jr and Outreach Director Dr. Jessica Johnson facilitated a workshop on new approaches to understanding the history of migration to the U.S.

2013-2014 | Contemporary Events in Historical Perspective

Inspired by the History Department's blog, Past@Present, the 2013-2014 History Institute addressed contemporary events in historical perspective. This four-session institute featured lectures by UMass Amherst History faculty Professors Mary Wilson, Audrey Altstadt, Chris Appy and David Glassberg. By looking closely at Central Asia, the Middle East, the idea of American exceptionalism and the modern environmental movement, the goal of this series was to help teachers gain essential perspective on stories in the news today. Videos of the lectures are available on the History Department YouTube Page.