On days like this I am very proud to be the Chair of the Messiah College History Department.
It began in my Historical Methods class where I got the privilege of watching three historians-in-training give presentations related to their research papers. Today I learned something I did not know about Nancy Reagan, Lawrence of Arabia, and Woodward and Bernstein.
After class I chatted with Megan Sullivan about a future project I am contemplating.
Then it was on to a filming session in my office. A couple of our students–Megan Piette and David Crout– are working on a short video about the History Department that we hope to send off to prospective students. I got a chance to talk, on camera, about why I study history, what led me to Messiah College, the relationship between faith and historical thinking, and the distinctives of a Messiah College history education.
Later in the afternoon I found a seat in a jam-packed classroom to see senior history major Megan Keller deliver her honors presentation. Megan is doing some fascinating work at the intersection of digital history, public history, memory, oral history, and labor history. Her project is an i-phone “app” that offers a walking tour of industrial Hershey, Pennsylvania. As I said in another post at this blog, Megan’s presentation is the most innovative honors project that has ever been done in the Messiah College History Department. She has paved the way for future projects and is now the poster-child for some of the initiatives in public history and digital history that we as a department have been planning.
Shortly after Megan’s presentation was finished, the Messiah College history faculty headed over to the “Private Dining Room” for the department’s annual “First Year Feast.” As the last class period in the first-year “Intro to History” course, we invite all freshman to a catered dinner in one of the more swanky dining rooms on campus. The First Year Feast is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate their success in making it through their first semester in college and their first semester as history majors. (Thanks to my colleagues Jim LaGrand, Joseph Huffman, and Shirley Groff for planning the event). Tonight I felt a particularly strong sense of community in the room as we all got to know one another a little bit better. Some students stayed well after dinner to chat informally.
It was indeed a good day to be part of the Messiah College History Department.