By Jenni Beaver–What do you do when you love history, but don’t want to teach? Morningside history professor Pat Bass decided it was time to show students that history can be more than the War of 1812 and the Constitution.
“It’s careers in library studies, museum work, historic preservation, and even historic tourism… they’re looking for more Bachelor level employees who are well enough trained, who can step in and do the job, but don’t require Master’s level pay,” said Bass. That’s where Morningside’s new Public History program comes in to play.
The program combines history, government and law, mass communication, art, theatre, business, library sciences, and more into one unique package.
Bass says the idea of the program is to step away from lecture-based learning and make it predominately experiential. With hands-on learning in the classroom, practicums, and internships, students are pushed into their desired field. They will have real-life experiences, and Bass says, “I can’t imagine someone coming through this program and not getting job offers.”
While the job offers may roll in, Business Administration department chair Pam Mickelson says “a new student would have to find their way and move up.” They won’t walk in to a museum and get the highest paid position, but Bachelor level students are needed. “We need people who can understand artifacts, and understand history, and have appreciation for that,” says Mickelson.
Mickelson says the program may not bring in as many students as nursing and education, because Public History isn’t for everyone. “I think the student who has an interest in history, who does not want to teach, is probably the target for this course.”
Librarian Adam Fullerton agrees on the target audience, but says the program is also a great way to bring awareness to the field. Many people know about museums, but the field of library sciences is more obscure. “If my college advisor hadn’t encouraged me, I never would have discovered the field [library science],” said Fullerton.
Since the program is heavily based on experiential learning, Fullerton says everything is very practical. “You’ll be reading some material, but you’ll be doing practical things that are relevant to things you would do out in the field.”
Bass says this type of program is rare for smaller institutions, but it has been a long time coming. “Not only do our students want it, but now it appears the marketplace wants it.”
The program will be officially launched in August of 2016. However, students who would like to pursue this track can start building their schedules now and officially declare next fall.