Department of History College of Arts and Sciences
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Community Engagement

History is more than classroom instruction. The Department of History is very much involved in presenting history to the public and supporting student organizations.

Our Community

Community Engagement

Outreach to the public

Two lecture series feature presentations by leading historians in both American history and world history.

Tennessee History Day is the official state affiliate of National History Day. The Department of History hosts the regional competition for students in the western part of Tennessee. Winners here advance to the state competition held in Nashville; winners at the state level then compete nationally at the University of Maryland, College Park. Dr Susan O’Donovan is the coordinator for West Tennessee History Day.

During 2006-2007 the Veterans Oral History Project received a grant of $120,000 from the Military Order of World Wars and The Assisi Foundation of Memphis to interview West Tennessee veterans of the Second World War as a Partner Archive for the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project. Dr Janann Sherman was the project director. Interviewing was conducted by the Oral History Research Project, Dr Charles W. Crawford, director.

Teaching American History — Memphis City Schools was a three-year grant from the U. S. Department of Education Teaching American History Grant Program to raise student achievement by improving teachers’ knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of American history. Dr Janann Sherman was Academic Director of the project, and participants included Dr Maurice Crouse, Dr Douglas Cupples, Dr Margaret Caffrey, and Dr Beverly Bond. The lectures by keynote speakers (Alan Taylor, William C. Davis, Eric Foner, David Oshinsky, Robert Dallek, and Robert Buzzanco) were recorded and are available through Podcast Central.

The Tennessee Board of Regents awarded a Diversity Grant in the amount of $100,000 to Dr Kent Schull for a proposal made jointly with Dr Jeffrey Byford of the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences, entitled “Integration Through Education: Muslims of Memphis and America.” Drs Schull and Byford proposed to create an educational model and curriculum for the integration of Muslims into American society aimed at both educating mainstream America on issues related to Islamic culture and history and assisting Muslim Americans to embrace U.S. values and the advantages offered here in the states. This model and curriculum is to be developed based on a four-pronged interrelated strategy:

  • Collecting information on the historic background and development of Islam and the modern Middle East. This information will then be synthesized and abbreviated for high school student consumption.
  • Conducting research on the Muslim community in the Memphis metropolitan area, where roughly 10-15,000 Muslims live. The information gathered (through a series of oral interviews and demographic surveys) will inform the curriculum and be used to write the history of Muslims in Memphis.
  • Surveying and interviewing Memphis-area high school teachers regarding classroom teaching strategies and practices related to Islam and the Middle East.
  • Combining what is learned from prongs one through three and developing a curriculum supplement to help educate Memphis high school students about the Middle East, Islam, and the Memphis Muslim community. This program may then also act as a model for the integration of Muslim populations throughout Tennessee, the United States, and Europe.
  • Department members are frequently interviewed by the media and speak to local organizations about historical subjects and current events.

The College of Arts and Sciences always asks several department members to participate in “Great Conversations,” its annual outreach and fund-raising program.

Student organizations

Epsilon Nu chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the national honor society for history students, both undergraduate and graduate, has monthly pizza luncheons and discussions, a movie night, a research forum, and the annual departmental honors banquet and ΦΑΘ induction ceremony. Dr Sarah Potter is the faculty advisor. In addition to its website, the chapter has a page on Facebook.

The Graduate History Association supports, promotes and encourages master’s and doctoral level students through mentoring programs, establishing liaisons with the department and other graduate students, and providing an outlet and resource for student concerns. Dr Catherine Phipps is the faculty advisor. In addition to its website, the association has a page on Facebook and tweets on Twitter.

The Graduate Association for African-American History annually hosts the Graduate Student Conference in African-American History (MS Word) and other programs in African-American history. Dr Arwin Smallwood is the faculty advisor. In addition to its website, the association has a page on Facebook.

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Last Updated: 6/11/13