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Public History


Students begin their program with a course in historiography, in which students are introduced to the theories, methodologies and perspectives of scholarly history and begin to learn the professional historian’s craft.  Students also select from a variety of readings colloquia and research seminars, in which they develop historical knowledge and research and communication skills.
In the first year of the program, students enroll in a series of courses designed to expose students to the role of history in society, culture and politics in both the past and present.  Students begin this exploration in the first semester through a course in historical memory and commemoration.  The curriculum also includes public history research seminars in the fall and spring, which include a public component, such as oral history or public presentations. 
In the second year of the program, graduate students in the Public History program enroll in three, two-credit practica dedicated to the development of practical skills, which they complete directly in our many local institutions under the joint supervision of UNCW Public History faculty members and history professionals.  Each practicum is dedicated to the work within one public history sub-discipline, such as collections care and management, museum education, historic house museum interpretation, exhibit design, historic preservation, museum administration, and archives management.  In each practicum, students complete a minimum of 180 hours of work over the course of 10-12 weeks, according to defined syllabi crafted collaboratively by the faculty and professional mentors.  All students completing practica also meet regularly as a group with their faculty mentors to discuss their experiences and to provide each other with guidance and support.
In the final semester of study, public history students choose to complete either of two research-based projects, a capstone or thesis.  A capstone is an individual project completed in conjunction with a community partner that includes both historical research and writing, and the presentation of that research in another form, such as an educational module, an exhibit, or a public program.  A thesis is an extended research paper that focuses on a topic, issue or question relevant to the theory and practice of public history.

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Director of the Public History Program

Ken Shefsiek

601 S. College Road
Morton Hall 235
Wilmington, NC 28403

Andrea Massey
Administrative Associate