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History in Action: Historical Thinking in Public Life

Friday, March 8, 2013 - 3:30pm - Saturday, March 9, 2013 - 6:30pm
Columbia University Morningside Campus East Gallery, Buell Hall


Keynote address, 8 March at 5:30PM by

Dr. John Lawrence, Ph.D., former Chief of Staff, Office of the Democratic Leader

Introduction by Prof. Alice Kessler-Harris, R. Gordon Hoxie Professor of History, Columbia University

The historical profession is in the midst of important changes. The traditional role of the research professor of history is evolving, as universities cut funding for the liberal arts, graduate programs shrink, and a new generation of scholars comfortable with innovative ways of disseminating ideas comes of age. Meanwhile, there have never been more opportunities for students with professional training in history to pursue careers outside academia, as studies by the American Historical Association suggest some one- to two-thirds of recent history Ph.D.s already do.  Although history departments are beginning to recognize the new place of history in public life, they have been slow to adapt, in part because outdated assumptions about public history continue to obstruct their thinking.

This workshop will seek to break through this impasse.  Over the course of one-and-a-half days, graduate students, professors, and non-academic professionals with university training will join in conversation to take stock of the place of historical thinking in public life and assess the roles and responsibilities of the historian today.  Through five panel discussions, a keynote address, and a concluding small-group exercise, we will explore the role history plays for non-university publics and interrogate the character of the historian in todays society.  Our final plenary session will be an opportunity to build on what we learn in our panel discussions through a group brainstorming exercise to generate concrete initiatives to supplement historical training here at Columbia.

A full description of the conference, including a detailed schedule with a list of panelists, is available at the conference website: http://blogs.cuit.columbia.edu/historyinaction/

History in Action would not be possible without the generous support of: 
Howard and Natalie Shawn and the History Department's Board of Visitors,
Teachers College Center on History and Education
The Maison Franaise
The Herbert H. Lehman Center for American History,
The Consortium for Intellectual and Cultural History,

Co-sponsored by the Columbia Maison Francaise and the Department of History