A new UGA program in public history is offering students the opportunity to learn about the professional side of their discipline—through archiving artifacts, giving tours of historic sites or curating a historical collection of films—while living in Washington, D.C.
The program, offered by the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences’ history department, will consist of a Maymester introduction to public history class followed by a summerlong internship at one of the many institutions, museums, libraries and other cultural institutions based in the nation’s capital.
The program is the first of its kind for Franklin College through the UGA in Washington program.
Public history, sometimes referred to as applied history, lends itself to a variety of employment opportunities with museums, institutions and other cultural entities and gives students a first-hand look at history, said Akela Reason, an associate professor of history who is leading the program.
“This program will introduce history majors to what they can do with their degree outside of academia,” she said. “So, it’s history in public archives, libraries, parks, public monuments, historic sites and museums. And that’s where they’ll be interning as well.”
The Maymester class will be taught primarily on the Washington Mall, with various trips to museums, park sites and monuments as well as field trips to Mount Vernon and the Gettysburg Battlefield.
“Washington really is the best place for this. There are just so many institutions, associations and archival materials there,” said Reason, who has experience working at several museums, including the Smithsonian, and lived in D.C. for several years. “The National Trust for Historic Preservation is there. The Red Cross is there. So many institutions have their headquarters there, so it’s a great opportunity to really dig into history.”
The addition of the Franklin program to the other programs in Washington provides an example of an experiential learning opportunity in the humanities, said Don DeMaria, director of the UGA Washington Semester Program.
“All of UGA’s D.C.-based programs play a vital role, other organizations to apply their knowledge.” showcasing the talent, intellect and drive of our students in the nation’s capital,” he said. “As they intern with lawmakers, think-tanks, museums, government agencies, law firms and many other types of offices, the students gain valuable work experience and serve as effective ambassadors of the university.
“Students with an interest in public history have no better place than Washington to study and intern,” DeMaria also said. “The city is rich with resources like the National Archives and Library of Congress, while also offering a variety of internship opportunities in government, museums and other organizations to apply their knowledge.”