Thursday, November 16, 2017

Digital History and Jobs Skills

Worried about Robots Taking Your Job?  Learn Spreadsheets” in Wired is about a Brookings Institution study looking at the increasing importance of digital skills in the workplace from 2002 to 2016.  To summarize, the movement to have everyone learn to code is sexy but folks need to understand and use basid digital tools such as Microsoft Office and other software in a modern workplace.  Students who took Digital History and Archival Practices have been hearing this song for years.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

THATCamp location

The THATCamp is meeting in Murphy 104.

If we need them for breakout sessions, we also have Murphy 106 and 102 reserved.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

More on Majors and Careers

Jeff Selingo's "Six Myths about Choosing a College Major" in the New York Times is worth reading when thinking about majors and how they relate to employment.  Check out his chart on lifetime earnings.  Selingo has written a lot about higher education and the future of work.  He has regular articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education plus several books.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

History Offerings

Registering for Spring 2017 courses is just around the corner.  With that in mind, the history department is offering some interesting courses including two new special topics courses.  Chris Dalton is teaching the Way of the Warrior in China and Japan.  Steven Pitt is teaching Piracy in the Americas and the American Revolution.  The piracy course is a new offering and the American Revolution is always timely.  Phillip Payne is offering a course the senior reading seminar on the United States Presidency and, with Dennis Frank, Digital History and Archival Practices.  If you want to learn about how historians practice and adapt to the information revolution, this is the class.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Bonas THATCamp 2017 update

Bill Bechdel and Brian Mayer have been working on some cool ways to engage our THATCampers.  We're kicking off the day at 9 a.m. with Brian and Bill talking about escape rooms and their approaches, then we break into the unconference portion of the day.

We're setting up the unconference so that campers will have the option to participate in workshops on games, design, and curriculum or they can propose a session.

10 a.m. Brian and Bill will lead a hands-on workshop on designing games.  If you don't want to do that, propose a session campers.  It's an unconference!

11 a.m. open sessions - propose something when you register

Lunch - we're eating at the Hickey.  Lunch is on us.

1 a.m. Brian will have a hands-on session on aligning escape experiences to a curriculum.   Again, we will also have open sessions.

2:30 We can head down to XPhobia  to play!     You can register at  You don't have to stay for the entire event.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

THATCamp Bonas

We’re hosting our second THATCamp on November 17 in Murphy Hall from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.  THATCamp in an “unconference” meaning that campers suggest topics for breakout sessions.  When you sign up at you will be asked to propose a topic that you are interested in learning more about.
Everyone is welcome and registration is free.  Snacks and lunch are included.  If you can’t make the whole event, that’s fine.  Come and go as your schedule allows.   Swag will be a limited number of tickets to play an XPhobia Escape room.  We’re wrapping up the event with the escape room at XPhobia.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Minecraft, History, and the Industrial Revolution

The Harvard Business Review Podcast has an interview with Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft that has two interesting points for SBU history.  He notes that people love Minecraft and students in the public history class are working in Minecraft.  When asked about coping with the current technological disruption, he correctly notes that we've seen this before.  We should study the history of the industrial revolution for insight into the digital revolution.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Public History does Design

Students enrolled in the Intro to Public History course are taking their first crack at designing a game.  Having looked at some design and organizational techniques and played some games to see those ideas in practice, they get to break into teams and create.  To see how history (theme) and games (design) could merge, they played Tesla v. Edison, The Grizzled, and Freedom: The Underground Railroad.  Thier first task is to create a simple card game.  Later, we'll add some history content from the archives.

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.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Internship Opportunities

Public History Game Design is back for the Fall

Is it fun?  Are games fun?  What is fun?  Should we play?  Here are some thoughts...

Next fall we will be doing the game design assignment again in History 206:  Introduction to Public History.  Prepping for that Dennis Frank send us a link to a collection of Ted Talks on Board Game Geek about board games.

While we're at it, let's check out video games in the classroom with Classroom Game Design.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Escape Room Camp - this summer

This summer we're hosting an escape room camp.  Escape Rooms are popping up all over the place.  In an escape room, your group has to get out (escape) by solving puzzles and mysteries around a theme.  If you like games, puzzles, and working together, they can be super fun.  The video (above) better explains what an escape room is.  If you search on YouTube, you will find lots of videos of people playing escape rooms.

Our camp is doing something a little different.  Campers will build the escape room and invite friends and family to play.  Campers will work in groups, pick a theme, select and build the puzzles, and put it all together in an escape room.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Liberal Arts and Jobs...

This piece, "Liberal Arts Majors Have Plenty of Job Prospects, if They have some Specific Skills, Too," in the Chronicle of Higher Education points out the value of a liberal arts education when combined with managerial and technical skills.  This is certainly a message we've been preaching in the digital and public history courses.

From the article:

"Employers really value soft skills that are the bedrock of a liberal-arts education," he says. But many employers are also looking for applicants with additional, specific skills, such as knowledge of Java or other programming languages, or proficiency with graphic-design tools like InDesign or Adobe Creative Cloud. "It’s not a matter of shutting down the classics department and turning it into a business degree," he says.
The company identified skills in eight fields, and then found an additional 863,000 entry-level jobs for graduates with skills in one or more of those fields. For example, the analysis found an additional 137,000 entry-level jobs for liberal-arts graduates who had data-analysis or management skills. It also found that such data-analysis jobs paid an average of $12,700 above the average salary for jobs traditionally open to liberal-arts graduates without such skills.

Somewhere in France

The Buffalo News has a nice article on Dr. Schaeper's Somewhere in France.  It begins....

"Professor of history Thomas J. Schaeper of Saint Bonaventure University has achieved a stellar place in the annals of writing about the history of war. He does this with his excellent book “Somewhere In France” which shows that all war is, in the end,  a story of the "quick and the dead," the personal and local."

Check out the story and the book.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Dr. Schaeper Publishes New Book

Dr. Thomas J. Shaeper, professor of history, recently published a new book, titled "Somewhere in France: The World War I Letters and Journal of Private Frederick A. Kittleman." In 1983, a man cleaning out his attic in Olean came across a stack of papers that had previously gone unnoticed. After glancing through them, he discovered they were letters dealing with World War I and brought them to nearby St. Bonaventure to donate to the library. The library alerted Schaeper and what resulted was a decades-long project. The letters were those of Priv. Frederick A. Kittleman, a small-town man who regularly wrote to his family after being drafted in 1918 and sent to France. The letters are contrasted with Kittleman's journal, which recounts the gritty details of battle that he shielded from his family in their correspondence. "Somewhere in France" will be available Feb. 1. 

Read the full story about his book on the SBU web page here.