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About History in Action

Welcome to History in Action, a workshop on the present and future uses of training in history, convening at the Maison Française at Columbia University, on 8-9 March 2013.

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are beginning to recognize the new place of history in public life, they have been slow to adapt, in part because outdated assumptions about “public history” continue to obstruct their thinking.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 today’s 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.

On this website, you’ll find information about the workshop, including the conference schedule with a list of panelists, descriptions of the panels, and other useful information.

History in Action is possible thanks to the generous support of:

For questions, concerns, or comments about the workshop or the website, please email Noah Rosenblum, the conference organizer.

 


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