About History in Action

In March 2013, the History Department at Columbia University delivered a workshop, “History in Action: Historical Thinking in Public Life” (HIA). HIA was an effort to think seriously about the relationship between history and life beyond the university and to propose concrete, incremental initiatives that might better unfold that relationship.The workshop generated further discussion devoted to several topics including the development of partnerships between the History Department and other organizations inside and outside the university with a view toward setting up RAships and infrastructural support for independent projects.

In 2014, the American Historical Association (AHA) successfully applied to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a grant to implement expanded career education pilot projects for history PhD candidates at four selected universities (Columbia, Chicago, New Mexico and UCLA) and  to continue, expand, and enhance its “Career Diversity and the History PhD” initiative. Their long-term goal is to establish a new norm: that doctoral graduates in history (and by extension the humanities) know how to pursue a wide spectrum of career opportunities that includes the professoriate, higher education administration, cultural institutions and other nonprofits, government, public education, and the private sector.

At Columbia University’s Department of History, the effort is to think broadly about where history is located and how it is enacted. We want to focus on the skills-training needed for all graduate students within an intellectual paradigm. We see this initiative as relevant to all of our graduate students, regardless of their temporal or geographic specializations, and in full sync with their own understandings of how they think of their scholarship. Under our “History in Action” programming, we will introduce our students to diverse professionals, trainings, and ideas that will not only make them a better historian, but prepare them to be productive members of a wide array of communities in the world. 
HIA is led by Project Director Professor Adam J. Kosto. For AY 2014-15, Professor Pamela H. Smith and Assistant Professor Manan Ahmed are the Faculty Co-ordinators, and Tania Bhattacharyya is the Graduate Student Co-ordinator.