Tuesday, September 12, 2017

History Club Meeting

The History Club will be having a general interest meeting this Wednesday September 13, at 7 PM in Plassmann 201. We will be discussing events for the year, meeting times for the rest of the semester, as well as our off-campus trip location. The History Club is open to both History majors and non-majors and we welcome the input of all involved. Come and see what the History Club is all about!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Introducing Steven Pitt

Our new faculty member joining us this fall.

Steven Pitt earned his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh in 2015. He specializes in teaching Maritime, Atlantic, and Early American History but has also taught courses in 20th Century U.S., World, European, and Environmental History. He is the author of two peered-reviewed articles on seafaring and ship building in colonial Boston entitled, “Cotton Mather and Boston’s ‘Seafaring Tribe,’” New England Quarterly 85.2 (June 2012) and “Building and Outfitting Ships in Colonial Boston,” Early American Studies 13.4 (Fall 2015): 881–907. He is currently working on a book manuscript that details the harrowing experience of colonial American seafarers in the Atlantic logwood (dyewood) trade on the Yucatan Peninsula. In the harsh, alligator-infested lagoons, they confronted threats ranging from pirates, the Spanish Empire, and endemic warfare to shipwrecks, hurricanes, and mosquito-borne diseases. Outside of work, Steven enjoys spending time with his wife, Julia and their two children, Annabelle and Josiah, as well as nature photography/hiking, skiing, and more recently, woodworking. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Connecting the dots between liberal arts and careers

It may be to the outsider that some of the things on appearing on the blog don't add up - what's up with a history department and GIS, THATCamp, Escape Rooms, Game Design, and other stuff.  Yes, we still teach history. Students read books and write papers.  That's not going away.  In fact, the bulk of what we do falls into those categories.  The ability to deeply read a text, write a clear paper, and use content knowledge to place events in context has never been more important.

However, we're also adding some spice to how things have been done in a history class.  Some of it, frankly, is experimentation with the goal of having fun.  Why not?  Fun is a powerful thing when it comes to learning.

 But as you can tell from other postings, we're giving serious thought to the relationship between the liberal arts and careers.  For starters, reading, writing, and content are important for life and work, but we also live in an age when things are changing rapidly and much of that change is driven by technology and data.  For those of you who graduated pre-internet, think about how much our work, entertainment, and lives have changed.  Frankly, there are now many careers that didn't exist 20 years ago and who knows what will exist 20 years from now.

There is a lot being written about this topic.  We're urged to "adapt and survive" and to "race with the machine."

Fair enough.  How?

This brings us back to the innovations we've been introducing to history classes.  There is one word you need on your resume today, and that is digital and so you see our work in digital history.  This is why we're working in GIS, website creation, podcast, and such.  Students should have digital on their resumes in a concrete and professional way.

We're also giving some serious thought to how design fits into this - hence the game design and gamification.

We've been working with Bill Bechdel of XPhobia and Jennifer Pulver of SBU's events office to create an escape room summer camp.  Don't know what an escape room is?  Check out the Olean Times Herald story on Bill's room.  According to Bill, “It’s like stepping into a movie — you’re a part of the action,” he said. “My idea is to bring as much immersion to this as possible.”  For participants, it is an authentic, immersive experience.  

For educators, it's a chance to blend content with design in the curriculum.  It's a chance for educators and students alike to learn.  The next step is to take the ideas we develop with the escape room camp and bring them into classes.  That, it seems, is the key to adapting - and having fun.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Careers and the History Major

Paul Sturtevant's article for the American Historical Association, "History is Not a Useless Major:  Fighting Myths with Data," offers up some data from the American Community Survey on the fate of history majors as they pursue careers.  We've long known that most history majors don't go on to become professional historians, but that doesn't mean they don't pursue careers.

Check out one of my favorite points from the article, screenshot ⇩ Turns out history majors get jobs.

However, we're not oblivious to the concerns who fear that studying history.  We're incorporating digital and design projects into our classes, especially the digital and public history classes, to help students learn 21st-century skills and articulate the skills and knowledge they develop in our classes.

Turns out nearly half of history majors go on to graduate school ⟱ and many go on to work in education, law, and business.

Friday, April 21, 2017


SBU is having its reception and luncheon for recipients of Keenan and Martini Grants.  A Keenan Grant funded the THATCamp, so we are happy to acknowledge the support.  SBU's Office of Events and Conferences really helped with putting the camp together and Jennifer Pulver not only did a great job with the event but also turned our poster into something really cool.  Sometimes you shouldn't let historians do graphic design.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

US Entered WW I today

Today is the anniversary of the United States joining World War I.  If you are interested in it, especially a local perspective check out Dr. Schaeper's book Somewhere in France: The World War I Letters and Journal of Private Frederick A. Kittleman.