History and Policy Education Program

Modeled on our Congressional Briefings program, the History and Policy Education Program (HPEP)  provides a curricular model that faculty can use in their courses to emphasize the relevance of history in addressing contemporary policy issues.

The program aims to foster students’ understanding of the value of historical perspectives for policy decision making, and to enhance their civic engagement by connecting historical studies to policymaking conversations.  HPEP is designed to get students to work collaboratively to select an historical subject that can illuminate the present, conduct research into that history, develop a format for the presentation of findings, identify and invite relevant stakeholders to a briefing, and make a public presentation that reviews their findings and explains its policy implications.

Students in Action

Students at the Catholic University of America in courses on the American and French revolutions came together in 2016 to present a joint briefing on the history religious liberty in the US and France.

In spring 2017, George Washington University students held a briefing on contemporary parallels to Victorian Britain. This group spoke on issues of inequality then and now.

Using the Program

Designed to be adaptable to many courses and teaching styles, the History and Policy Education Program provides a guide for history educators to develop and host briefings about the historical dimensions of current policy questions. To help instructors use HPEP in the classroom, we've developed a guide for implementing the program. This includes an overview of the program, learning outcomes, and practical tips for inviting legislators and other leaders and for organizing public briefings. Additional, more specific, resource modules can be found below. Download the guide here!

Resource Modules

Drug Epidemics in the United States
The purpose of this policy assignment is to identify historical similarities between the opioid crisis and past drug epidemics in American history, to understand how and why the federal government succeeded or failed in combating past epidemics, and apply these insights to contemporary challenges.

Housing Policy in the United States
Despite centuries of reform, housing policy remains a major challenge for policymakers today. The purpose of this policy packet is to enable students to explore the long, complicated history of federal housing policy in the United States.

Water Rights and Protections
From Flint, Michigan to the Standing Rock Reservation, North Dakota, access to and protection of water resources in North America continues to be a pressing issue for policymakers.

This project allows students to explore how immigration policies have influenced or been influenced by other political forces, and how these influences inform immigration policy today

How have others used the program?

Victorian Britain
Dane Kennedy (George Washington University) used the program in his course on Victorian Britain.  You can view student presentations and resources for the course at this page.

You can read about Dane Kennedy's experience using the program in the classroom in his piece "Policy Briefings in the Classroom: A Pedagogical Experiment," for Perspectives Daily.

American Jewish History Seminar
Jenna Weissman Joselit (George Washington University) incorporated the History and Policy Education Program into her course on American Jewish history.  Dr. Joselit reflected on her experiences using the program for the Center.  You can read more here.

History of Philadelphia
Jessica Roney (Temple University), implemented the program in her classroom when it was formerly known as the Mock Policy Program. You can read about her experience, and what her students thought, in these posts for AHA Today. You can view the syllabus Dr. Rooney used in the classroom here.

Revolutionary America and the Early Republic
At the Catholic University of America, Amanda Moniz incorporated the History and Policy Education Program into her course on revolutionary America.  You can view the syllabus for the course here. You can watch the full briefing video here.

Our Congressional Briefings

HPEP is modeled on our Congressional Briefings program, which brings leading historians to Capitol Hill to provide non-partisan briefings on past events and policies that shape the issues facing Congress today.  You can learn more about the program here. Additional videos are available in our video library.