Undergraduate students interested in history have traditionally had two options – the History major or a Secondary Education major focused on social studies. RIC now offers a third track: public history. For those students who like the idea of working with history, but aren’t interested in full-time teaching but also like the idea of sharing history with a broader audience and want to gain some practical experience to complement their history coursework, public history can be the answer.
At RIC we currently offer public history as a focus area within the history major and as a 15-credit certificate (similar to a minor). The Certificate in Public History is designed to train undergraduate students pursuing a B.A. in History or a post-Bachelor’s student in the practical application, scope, methodologies, and procedures of public history. A graduate Certificate in Public History is also available as of the 2013-2014 academic year.
The courses in the program are open to anyone, and history majors are particularly encouraged to dabble. The Introduction to Public History course that is offered each spring is meant to expose students to the field and the interesting issues that permeate public interactions with the past. Anyone interested in the serious study history is likely concerned with the kinds of questions we grapple with in this course, including how memory and history interact, the role of the past in the present, and the meaning of history for modern society. Students in this course have done a number of class projects in recent years, including curating an exhibit related to Rhode Island and the Civil War, creating a Women’s Tour for the North Burial Ground Project, and researching and writing an institutional history of Rhode Island College.
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