About the program
Since 2000, the History Department at FIU has had a strong and growing Public History program. We have worked in cooperation with the Frost Museum, the Wolfsonian-FIU, the Green Library, the Department of Religious Studies and the School of Public Health.
Public History has trained students to:
- Conduct research
- Develop programming with a historical and cultural content
- Implement hands-on cultural and historical projects
- Find targeted and active-learning-driven internships
- Prepare engaging portfolios of their work and accomplishments
- Secure placement in major graduate programs and employment beyond the traditional academic sphere
Public History has been the source of pioneering collaborative engagement on the part of faculty and students with various local partners, affording FIU students unique hands-on learning opportunities and strengthening our community outreach.
Among our collaborators are the Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the City of Miami Beach, HistoryMiami, the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, the City of Coral Gables Historical Resource Department, the S. Florida Collections Management Center in Everglades National Park, FIU Special Collections and University Archives and the Wolfsonian-FIU Museum. Students have benefitted from internships at a plethora of local institutions including: The Historic Stranahan House Museum, the Stonewall Library and Archives, the Miami Art Museum, the Historic Hampton House Community Trust, the Miami Military Museum and the Miami Dade Parks and Recreation Department.
The Public History program has benefited from external funding in areas strategic to FIU, in particular urban outreach, health, and the environment. These grants have relied on our students’ active involvement.
- We have received major support from the Federal Department of Education and the Florida Department of Education for the master's program training of local school teachers.
- We received funding from the Florida Humanities Council to develop “Talking Service”, a reading and discussion group for military veterans from FIU and the surrounding community.
- From the Chris Webber Memorial Fellowship Fund, funding has become available for an oral history of African American advocacy on AIDS and affordable housing in Black communities.
- Most recently, the department received a pioneering NEH “Humanities in the Public Square Grant” to address in a historical and multidisciplinary way the long-term nature and impact of sea level rise and related environmental concerns in Miami and South Florida (“Fragile Habitats: Conversations for Miami’s Future”).
The History Department already has in place a number of faculty that connect our students to wider careers beyond academia, and link the humanities to questions of the real world.
- Professors Jessica Adler, Victor Uribe, and Chantalle Verna hold joint appointments in non-humanities departments—public health, law, and international relations.
- Professor Kenneth Lipartito’s scholarship and teaching bridge history with economics, business, and technology.
- Professors Jessica Adler, Okezi Otovo, and Daniel Royles undertake research dealing with medicine and public health.
- Other faculty have unique strengths and skills in the public history area: Dan Royles and Terrence G. Peterson are trained oral historians while Michael Bustamante conducts research on historical memory, a key area of inquiry within Public History.
- Finally, most other members of the faculty conduct Public History-relevant research and teaching on gender and ethnic relations and conflicts, areas with a heavy Public History potential.
The track record and success of the Public History program provides a basis for launching broader initiatives, in particular the expansion of our program to other fields in the humanities. Our objectives are to contribute to training and to placing students for a wide range of nonacademic careers and we are actively seeking funding to expand the scope and relevance of this program. Our mission is to make it possible for graduate and undergraduate students in history to intern and work in business, law, public policy, health and medicine, and the environment, whether in the public sector, private sector, or the NGO community.
Student training and opportunities
Master's students in the Public History Track have held internships in most of the institutions listed. They have also received external funding to join in the establishment, organization, and digitization of a major historical urban archive; assist in the implementation of oral histories of local veterans; and contribute to the development and curating of a variety of exhibits in local museums.
Several others, both at the master's and PhD level, have been active in more global endeavors, such as the digitization and cataloging of an archive on the history of Christianity in Latin America, and in the implementation of Green Library’s DLOC (Digital Library of the Caribbean) and have curated their own digital exhibits.
Our graduates work not only in cultural and historical institutions such as museums, parks, archives, but also in government agencies and other institutional settings, as well as journalism and digital media.