Public historians help build historical understanding by engaging in shared authority, shared inquiry, and the co-creation of knowledge with audiences and stakeholders. Public historians are trained, first and foremost, as historians – to conduct research, to craft interpretations and to write well. However, public historians also must be prepared to work in a complex, interdisciplinary environment and to collaborate with partners for whom an understanding of history can have immediate practical implications. Public historians create original interpretations that build bridges between scholarship and everyday life by respecting diverse forms of knowledge, by understanding the ways in which their partners and audiences use history, and by working on behalf of the communities they serve.
Our faculty recognizes that the dynamic collaborations that define public history can produce innovative and relevant scholarship. Graduate students in the M.A. in Historical Studies, Public History Track participate in research projects that address needs identified by a variety of community partners, ranging from non-profit organizations to government entities, and voluntary associations. Faculty and students work with these partners to advance new understanding about the past and enable problem solving in the present by raising important questions about history, identity, place, and power. The M.A. in Historical Studies Public History track provides opportunities for public history students to build a professional track record, develop a network of professional contacts, and acquire specialized experience in the field.