UNG students are benefitting from two history professors' participation in prestigious National Endowment of Humanities (NEH) programs this past summer.
Dr. Eugene Van Sickle, acting associate head of the Department of History, Anthropology and Philosophy, attended a two-week institute in Norman, Oklahoma, in June that offered a comprehensive examination of westward expansion and the Constitution in the early American republic. His expertise is in early American history and he teaches courses on a variety of topics based in that timeframe.
"As a professor, attending the NEH Institute is an opportunity to add to my own knowledge of American history through targeted study of topics not usually considered together even though they are important; in this case, it is examining the interplay of western expansion and the U.S. Constitution," he said. "For instance, what are the constitutional issues that arose from the process of expansion?"
Van Sickle said the institutes meant he could work with fellow historians and research materials he wouldn't be able to access otherwise – a benefit to him and his students.
"Being selected to attend an NEH institute is a great opportunity for my own professional growth," he said. "Hopefully, the additional training and development I gain makes me an increasingly valuable resource, mentor, and teacher for UNG students."
Dr. Renee Bricker, assistant professor of history, spent five weeks at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, studying the Mongol period of the 13th and 14th centuries. Bricker, who teaches courses on world civilizations and British and European history, viewed the NEH program as a way to deepen her knowledge of world history beyond her expertise area of Tudor-Stuart British history.
"I restructured my world history course to more properly bring in Asia, an area I had felt unsure in as I am trained as an early modern British historian. I brought more sources to my students, created a research assignment for them that drew upon the experience, too," Bricker said. "In addition, for me as a scholar and college teacher, the fellowship of the other participants has been invaluable — we stay in touch with a Facebook page and exchange ideas and resources."
The NEH, one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the United States, is an independent federal agency created in 1965. Each year, NEH offers tuition-free opportunities for educators to study a variety of humanities topics during various summer programs and includes stipends to help cover expenses.
"The NEH institutes are very competitive and to be selected is a distinct honor," said Dr. Timothy May, associate dean of UNG's College of Arts & Letters and a professor of Eurasian history.