What is Public History? The leading professional association in the field, the National Council for Public History, defines public history as “the many and diverse ways in which history is put to work in the world. In this sense, it is history that is applied to real-world issues.” Most simply, we can understand public history as the work of history outside the classroom.

Stanislaus State offers many courses to help prepare undergraduate and graduate students, especially those interested in non-teaching history careers, to think like public historians and to put history “to work” in the world. Students develop analytical, interpretive, and practical skills by engaging with the theories and methodologies appropriate to applied historical practice. The history department offers public history coursework designed to meet the needs of future and working public history practitioners in public and private sector employment such as museum coordination, exhibition planning, archival management, historic site assessment, historic preservation, and cultural resource management. Emphasis is placed on historical research methods, collaboration with diverse stakeholders, digital tools, and other evolving practical skills necessary to effectively engage in public history positions and projects.

Below are the available courses that you might take to build your resume with public history instruction and experience. Because the department is currently in the process of proposing a certificate program, at this point the number and combination of courses is up to you.

We recommend at least one course in each area below, with as many Public History courses as possible (at least 4005 and 4940/5940). You do not need to be a declared undergraduate major or graduate student in history to take the history or public history courses.

Recommended lower-division preparation

  • HIST 2900 – Introduction to Historical Research Methods (2 units) or MDIS 3005/SSCI 3005 - Research and Information Literacy (2 units)

Public History courses offered

  • HIST 4005 – Introduction to Public History
  • HIST 4006 – Oral History
  • HIST 4010 – Local History
  • HIST 4940/5940 – History Internship (it would be best to have taken or be concurrently enrolled in Hist 2900 or MDIS/SSCI 2005 AND History 4005)

Recommended Sociocultural Inquiry and History courses

  • HIST 3720 – U.S. Ethnic an Immigrant Past
  • HIST 3730 – Afro American History
  • HIST 4670 – California History
  • HIST 4650 – History of the American West
  • HIST 4710 – Mexican American History
  • Or (starting Fall 2025) any course satisfying the Sociocultural Inquiry requirement

Recommended courses for practical skills applications

Courses below with enrollment restrictions are marked as follows: those with recommended prerequisites or the writing proficiency screening test with *, definite (lower- or upper-div) prerequisites with ** and those that are restricted to the department’s majors with ***

  • ANTH 4030 – Visual Anthropology
  • ANTH/HIST 4321* – Historical Archaeology
  • ANTH 4630* – Museum Collections Management
  • ART/ANTH 2040 - Introduction to Museum Studies (Proposed)
  • ART 3380** – Public Sculpture
  • ART 3621** – Narrative Video
  • ART 3622** – Documentary Videography
  • ART 3623/JOUR 3623** - Digital Media Storytelling
  • ART 3624** – Digital Video Compositing
  • ART 3626** – Visual Storytelling for Video and Animation
  • ART 3725** – Non-linear Immersive Narratives
  • ART 4580*** – Exhibit Design and Gallery Management
  • ENGL4015* – Grant and Proposal Writing
  • GEOG 2200 – Introduction to Geospatial Applications
  • GEOG 4750 – Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
  • GEOG/ANTH 4852** – Advanced Geographic Information Systems
  • GEOG 4855** – GIS Applications for Urban Analysis
  • JOUR 3012 - Journalism Laboratory

If you have any questions about public history courses or careers, contact Dr. Jennifer Cullison at jcullison@csustan.edu.

Updated: October 18, 2023