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 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.

All Stan State student can explore public history courses. Public history courses are offered every fall and spring. Though there is an application process for the capstone history internship experience, all public history courses in the history department are otherwise open to students of all majors.

Beginning Fall 2024, for students wishing to add a public history program to their BA or BS degree, the history department is offering a public history certificate. Please see the details here: Public History Certificate.

Updated: June 28, 2024