Category Archives: History Education Policy

The National History Center works with foundations and partners to assess history education throughout the nation, particularly in light of new research on history teaching and learning as well as comparisons with similar history teaching reform efforts abroad. The Center is also a partner with the National History Education Clearinghouse.

Policy and History in York, PA: College Students Brief Local Leaders

Drawing upon the model of the Congressional Briefing series and some of the examples from the History and Policy Education Program, Corey M. Brooks, Associate Professor of History at York College of Pennsylvania, developed a new course,  “Policy and History in York” for the Spring 2019 semester. His full reflections can be found here.

On a May night in downtown York, Pennsylvania, two blocks from city hall, I sat quietly as seven of my York College undergraduates expounded to politicians and community leaders on the histories of poverty in our community and of policy responses that had in years past attempted (and often failed) to meaningfully alleviate this deep-rooted problem.   Speaking for 90 minutes on subtopics they had selected themselves and researched over the course of a semester, these students together unfolded several key facets of the history of poverty policy in York.   The audience responded with rapt attention, as student research informed and energized attendees, including the city’s mayor, the city council president, the local constituent services director for the area’s U. S. Representative, and the CEO of York County’s official Community Action Agency.   After concluding their prepared remarks, students handled difficult, thought-provoking audience questions with comfort and skill.  Each student stood a little taller later that night as they mingled with local policymakers and college faculty.  In the process, they celebrated their hard work—work that might tangibly contribute to a community in which they now felt increasingly invested.

Welcome to York sign (Public domain)

The group had traveled quite a distance from our first class meeting in January.  At the outset, the students had little idea where they would direct their energies and widely varying experiences with history research, policy analysis, and local community engagement.  Guiding these students from that starting point to the final briefing event was perhaps the most demanding and most fulfilling teaching experience of my nine years at York College of Pennsylvania.  In this new “Policy and History in York” course, modeled on the National History Center’s congressional briefings, I challenged students to conduct the research necessary to become experts on the local history of policies that concern our community.  They then would have to work as a team to build and present a shared briefing for local decision makers.

I conceived of this course for two main reasons. The first was in response to the all too ubiquitous questioning, including (especially) in higher education itself, of the relevance of historical research.  Here was a course in which students would show peers, faculty, and the broader community how historical research could be brought to bear to contextualize current challenges.

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If You Had to Teach It All, How Would You Do It?

How would you organize a high school U.S. history survey course?

That was the question the National History Center and the National History Education Clearinghouse recently asked six people whose professional lives center around history and education.

As part of a roundtable discussion, Lendol Calder (Augustana College, IL), Fiona Halloran (Rowland Hall School, UT), Andrew Johnson (Chicago Academy High School), David Mitchell (Masconoment Regional High School, MA), William White (Williamsburg Foundation, VA), and Valerie Ziegler (Lincoln High School, CA) offered insights on this thorny topic. We invite you to read their essays, comment on them, and join in the dialogue by going to

Although each person suggested varying approaches, all felt that instilling the love of history into students’ lives was the most important objective in a survey course. That love, they agreed, creates active citizens, engaged students, and thoughtful young historians. When describing how she organized her high school U.S. history course, Valerie Ziegler wrote, “I structure my yearlong U.S. history course with 3 goals in mind: students do the work of a historian, they envision themselves in the history of this country, and they develop a desire to learn more.” Fiona Halloran concurred, adding that in her class she “invites students to tell [her] about the ideas they found most compelling and their work is therefore brighter, more forceful and more specific.”

The roundtables of the National History Education Clearinghouse are meant to be thought- provoking and to open a public discussion on topics pertinent to the teaching of history from kindergarten through 12th grade. Topics include the role of multiple-choice tests and the roles of university history departments in teacher preparation.  To read all the think pieces for this roundtable and to comment, please click here:

The Clearinghouse and its website,, are designed to help K–12 history teachers find resources and materials to improve U.S. history education in the classroom. The Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (CHNM) and its partners, the National History Center, the American Historical Association, and the Stanford History Education Group, created with funding from the U.S. Department of Education. Their goal is to make history content, teaching strategies, resources, and research readily accessible to teachers, administrators, and others interested in history education.

The National History Education Clearinghouse is funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s contract number ED-07-CO-0088.



Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Workshop at AHA’s Annual Meeting

The National History Center will partner with the American Historical Association’s Teaching Division and its Graduate and Early Career Committee (GECC) to present a workshop on “Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching” at the AHA’s 125th Annual Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts in January, 2011.

The all-day workshop will convene Thursday, January 6, the first day of the annual meeting.  It will be open at no additional cost to anyone who registers for the meeting, though it is aimed at graduate students and individuals new to teaching.  Three sessions will address topics identified by the GECC as being of particular use to novice teachers:  how to create an undergraduate course and develop a syllabus, how to become an effective lecturer for larger classes, and how to balance research, teaching, and service while completing the dissertation and searching for a job or fulfilling the requirements for gaining tenure.

Confirmed presenters  include teaching and learning theorist Lendol Calder of Augustana College (Illinois); prize-winning lecturer Howard Miller of the University of Texas at Austin; and Kevin Reilly of Raritan Valley Community College, a founder of the World History Association  known for successfully integrating scholarship, teaching and service to his institution and the profession. Katherine Hijar of California State University San Marcos, Aeleah Soine of Macalester College, and Kevin Reilly will moderate. The full program is listed below.

To attend this free workshop, participants must register for the AHA’s meeting.  Please click the following link to register for the meeting: AHA’s registration site. The workshop is limited in space to 100 participants.

Teaching Workshop: Recognizing Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching

Thursday, January 6, 8:30 a.m.-3:45 p.m.

Hynes Convention Center (Boston), Room 110

8:45 a.m.-9:00 a.m. Introduction

9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. How to Create an Undergraduate Course

Moderator: Katherine Hijar, California State University at San Marcos

Panel: Lendol G. Calder, Augustana College; Kevin Kenny, Boston College; Janice L. Reiif, University of California at Los Angeles; Stefan A. Tanaka, University of California at San Diego.

11:00 a.m.-11:15 a.m. Break

11:15 a.m.-12:15 pm. How to Become an Effective Lecturer

Moderator: Aeleah H. Soine, Macalester College

Panel: Guy Howard Miller, University of Texas at Austin; and George Derek Musgrove, University of the District of Columbia

12:15 p.m.-2:00 p.m. Lunch (not provided)

2:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m.  How to balance Research, Teaching, and Service

Moderator: Kevin Reilly, Raitan Valley Community College

Panel: Bonnie Miller, University of Massachusetts at Boston; Kevin Reilly; and Peter N. Stearns, George Mason University

3:30 p.m.-3:45 p.m. Wrap-up