Today I’m helping to host the 2019 Minnesota Undergraduate History Symposium, an annual one-day conference that features the research of students from church-related colleges in the Upper Midwest. We’ve got about 45 students from 12 schools presenting on a dozen panels throughout the day. But we opened with a plenary session on “The Future of Public History.” Our guest speaker was Kent Whitworth, the new director and CEO of the Minnesota Historical Society.
After some opening remarks about his own path to public history, the work of MNHS, and the History Relevance Campaign (which he helped found), Kent took faculty and student questions. Not surprisingly, we talked a lot about this week’s vote in the Minnesota state senate, where Republicans sought to cut $4 million from the MNHS budget because of what they called the society’s “revisionist history.” Other topics included debates over Confederate memorials (Kent had previously directed the Kentucky Historical Society), the relationship of history to the STEM disciplines, and how students can pursue careers in public history.
It was a terrific conversation, and a great way to kick off the symposium! Better yet, Kent agreed to let us record this morning’s comments and Q&A for a “live” episode of our Live from AC2nd podcast series, so that many others can listen in.