Update on Our Intro to History Webisodes

Summer break is rapidly coming to an end, with our faculty retreat taking place next Tuesday and Wednesday and students starting to move in the rest of the week. But before summer disappears completely, I thought I’d share an update on one of my projects:

Screenshot from the opening titles to our "Past & Presence" webisode series

I’ve mentioned before that this academic year I’ll be teaching our department’s new Introduction to History course. While that won’t debut until February, I wanted to use some of the summer to get a headstart on one of the key elements of that hybrid course: a weekly departmental webisode entitled Past & Presence. As I explained in an update in mid-July,

Past & Presence will primarily consist of faculty/alumni interviews and conversations that preview the topics for our Monday evening seminars. And, in keeping with our desire to treat the Twin Cities as a classroom, I’ll be “hosting” each episode from a particular location: starting with places at Bethel and then gradually moving farther and farther from campus…

Yesterday morning we filmed our first three faculty conversations, with my colleagues AnneMarie Kooistra (U.S. history, history of gender and sexuality) and Amy Poppinga (Islamic studies, environmental history) joining me to reflect on history and vocation, history and popular culture, and what good oral communication and collaboration looks like in history courses. We’ve also filmed interviews with AnneMarie, Amy, and our colleague Diana Magnuson (U.S. history, women’s history). In the coming weeks we’ll do the same with Ruben Rivera (Latin American history, church history) and my collaborator Sam Mulberry (Western civilization), as we also continue to film faculty conversations about research, writing, faith-learning integration, historiography, biography, and other topics.

Our visit to Eidem Homestead
Screenshot from our visit to Eidem Homestead, a living history farm in Brooklyn Park, MN, where one of our alumni is site coordinator. (Don’t worry: we’ll fix my hair in post-production.)

We’ve also interviewed alumni working in everything from pastoral ministry to corporate law to web services. We’ve talked to a magazine editor, a football coach, a college library director, a middle school teacher in Minneapolis, and an English teacher in China.

And along the way, we’ve expanded our “classroom” to include sites around Bethel (including the archives of the university and its denomination — and the denomination’s oldest extant church) and beyond. Particular highlights of our travels have been visits to:

  • Bethel’s old campus (now a job training center)
  • The birthplace of F. Scott Fitzgerald in St. Paul
  • The unparalleled Minnesota History Center, where we got to interview staff who work in exhibit design, textile preservation, and development, plus the coordinator of the internship program
  • My hometown of Stillwater, one of the oldest cities in Minnesota
  • The North West Company Fur Post, another of the Minnesota Historical Society‘s twenty-six sites, just outside Pine City, Minnesota

That last visit came halfway along in our “road trip” episode, as Sam and I journeyed to Duluth, Minnesota. Here’s the rough cut of the interstitial links for that webisode, which will actually be the last in the series.


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