From Courses and Degrees to Careers and Citizenship: Communicating the Value of History

AHA Session 137
Saturday, January 4, 2020: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Gramercy East (New York Hilton, Second Floor)
Daniel J. McInerney, Utah State University
John Bezis-Selfa, Wheaton College Massachusetts
Reginald K. Ellis, Florida A&M University
Lisa Gavigan, Filene Center for Academic Advising and Career Services, Wheaton College Massachusetts
Haley Maynard, National Archives and Records Administartion
David J. Trowbridge, Marshall University

Session Abstract

In AHA projects such as Tuning, Bridging Cultures, and History Gateways, faculty focus on innovative pedagogical approaches to the classroom, curriculum, and core outcomes. But many colleagues also think beyond the traditional work between instructors and students to consider the productive connections we can help build with a wide range of stakeholders in higher education, introducing students to the people who can assist them in their “next steps” after they complete their major.

This roundtable explores ways of linking students’ historical training with the tasks they will take up in the future after graduation. Historians in the session come from a private liberal arts college, a public research university, and a historically black university. Each brings a different kind of project to the discussion. And they bring graduates and colleagues to talk further about the projects.

John Bezis-Selfa (Wheaton College, Massachusetts) will discuss a proposal for a new type of course within a revamped history curriculum, one designed to provide academic credit for classwork addressing students’ post-baccalaureate planning. He will explore the origins of the proposal, the debate that developed among faculty, and the context of the proposed course within a new General Education curriculum that links liberal arts education to helping students chart career pathways over the course of their time at Wheaton.

Lisa Gavigan (Director of Career Services, Wheaton College, Massachusetts) will comment on the history department’s work with her office and place that within the context of ongoing institutional initiatives at Wheaton.

David Trowbridge (Marshall University, West Virginia) will discuss ways in which employers examine and value the skills of the historian. Trowbridge communicates to his students the terms and perspectives that businesses and non-profits use to explain our academic work. He then guides students in applying the skills they learn as historians to ask well-informed questions, organize voluminous information, and expressing what they learn about careers in effective ways.

Haley Maynard, a recent Marshall graduate, will speak of the lessons she took from this mentoring to her post at the National Archives. Her perspective is shaped by her work with the public and a federal agency. Haley will discuss how she uses the skills of the historian with both academic audiences and the public including lawmakers, businesses, and non-profits.

Reginald K. Ellis (Florida A & M University) will examine how work in the AHA Tuning project since 2012 has recast the ways in which his institution has enhanced the history major for all stakeholders. Ellis not only revised syllabi, curricula, and department outcomes. He also focused on building stronger relations with community leaders, particularly local and state-wide chambers of commerce. His goal has been to enhance the visibility of the university’s history program and increase the opportunity for students to gain internships as well as employment with these partners.

Daniel J. McInerney (Utah State University), roundtable moderator, will frame the discussion in light of other national projects that encourage faculty to serve as guides and advocates for students in further education, careers, and civic life.

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