Geneseo Scholars Join NEH-Funded Effort to Revise History Curriculum

Department of History's Associate Professor Kathleen Mapes and Professor Justin Behrend (SUNY Geneseo/Matt Berkhartt)

Professor Justin Behrend and Associate Professor Kathleen Mapes of SUNY Geneseo’s Department of History joined thirteen historians from ten SUNY campuses as part of a federally funded effort to reimagine the US history curriculum at Geneseo and across the SUNY system. 

The two-year Humanities Initiative grant funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) enabled the historians to participate in a week-long study group focused on the late nineteenth century’s Gilded Age and Progressive Era. The project’s goals include developing new courses within SUNY and revising existing courses to better reflect the current state of the field. 

“We used this unique opportunity to discuss our approaches to teaching this historical era and to plan ways to reach a broader public with innovative perspectives on this history,” said Behrend. 

In the second year of the grant, the historians will develop outreach efforts that might include working with local school districts across New York State. Behrend and Mapes plan to offer a workshop on rethinking the Gilded Age and Progressive Era at the history department’s annual Teacher’s Day workshop for middle and high school social studies teachers. Now in its tenth year, Teacher’s Day brings together about fifty social studies teachers from the surrounding counties for a day of history education and conversation.  

SUNY Cortland Professors Kevin B. Sheets and Randi Storch are the lead organizers of the NEH grant. They brought in visiting scholars Kristin Hoganson, professor of history at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne, and Rebecca Edwards, professor of history at Vassar, to lead the study group.

In addition to new curriculum and outreach efforts, a book and companion website will be designed to help teachers and professors incorporate recent scholarship and best teaching practices into their courses.

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Monique Patenaude, PhD
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