Narrative - Eastern Michigan University

The History section of the Department of History & Philosophy proposes that they
be authorized to search for a line in United States History, post-1945, with an
emphasis on the relationship between America and the World. Currently, no one in
the History section is a specialist in post-1945 history, since the Robert Duke left the
program, and with the forthcoming retirement of Linda Pritchard, whose specialties
overlap with others in the program, the section seeks to fill this essential period
when the United States emerged as on of the world’s two superpowers.
A tenure-track faculty position in the United States since 1945 with an emphasis on
the US in the World will be invaluable to all of the History programs including the
History Major and Minor, the Master of Arts in History and Social Science, and the
five comprehensive Social Studies and History Teaching for Secondary Education
A great strength of the History programs are their breadth and diversity. The
History Section regularly teaches courses that span time (ancient, medieval, and
modern) as well as space (North America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America, and
the Middle East). Within US history, the History Section has long offered a rich array
of courses that span the colonial period to the present with particular courses on
Native Americans, African Americans, women, the military, sexuality, the
environment, and religion. This breadth and diversity allows History graduates to
have well-rounded perspective of the past. This is particularly important for
teaching majors who face an increasingly diverse student population.
The weaknesses in the History programs are twofold. First, a spate of recent
retirements has truncated number of US history courses. Specifically, no faculty are
available to teach the history of the US since 1945. Arguably, this is the most
important era of American history as it was in the postwar era that the United States
became a world power, heavily influencing the political, economic, and social
structure of the globe. It was during the postwar era that the Civil Rights Movement,
revisions to US immigration law, and the sexual revolutions dramatically remade
American society, empowering formerly marginalized voices and enriching the
culture with a more racially diverse population. Students studying the past—both
of the US and the world—should be well-versed in the history of the US since 1945.
Second, the organization of the History programs has long divided the curriculum
along geographic lines. Both History Majors and graduate students are required to
select classes from one of three areas: the US and Canada; Europe; and Africa, Asia,
and Latin America. However, the new direction in terms of US history as well as
pedagogy has been to emphasize the interconnectedness of these spaces and to view
the past through a transnational perspective. The History program has begun to
embrace this new philosophy. US historians have added classes to the curriculum in
the Atlantic World and World War II, both of which emphasize the place of the US
within the world. A new faculty position should be framed consistent with this
mandate. Given that the US became a major global presence in the postwar era—
and its domestic policies changed in response to internationalizing trends like
immigration—it makes sense to tie a new hire in the US since 1945 to a position in
the US in the world. This would attract scholars working on immigration, US foreign
policy, Latina/o studies, and/or Arab-American and Muslim studies—all areas not
taught by the current History faculty.
We believe that these new fields of study will bring new life to the history programs,
exploring areas of expanding interest, particularly in the current political climate, as
well as teaching classes in an era of real student interest. We envision that some of
these areas may lead to new U.S. Diversity General Education classes. The history
program has been hit hard by two national trends, one the decline in liberal arts
enrollments and the other the decline in enrollment in teacher education programs
that we know too well here at Eastern Michigan. Enrollment in the liberal arts
program has declined by about a third in the past few years, although this years
figures show a leveling off in the number of majors. Enrollments in the various
teaching programs have also dramatically declined since 2012 (since the names of
the majors changed in 2013, the fact sheet does not reflect this well), from 237
majors in the Fall of 2011 to 114 this term. In the face of these declines, the history
program has been judicious in its requests, replacing only one faculty member for
every two retirements.
A tenure-track faculty position in the United States since 1945 with an emphasis on
the US in the World can help the History program achieve many of its
undergraduate and graduate Student Learning Outcomes.
At the undergraduate level, the position would help the graduates to:
 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the United States (or the
United States and Canada), Europe, and at least one of the following: Asia,
Africa, the Middle East, or Latin America, by detailing the history of the US
since 1945 and how the experiences of the postwar US were intertwined
with international events including immigration, US military power, and
economic policy.
 Bring a historical and cross-cultural perspective to discussions of current
affairs, and participate in public life as informed, thoughtful, and articulate
citizens and leaders by engaging students in the recent history of the US and
how the country’s global context has shaped the nation and the world.
At the graduate level, the position would advance the goals of ensuring that:
 Students will gain an understanding of the historical development of the field
of history itself by inviting a scholar well-versed in the global context of
recent US history to demonstrate the changing face of the US nation and the
ways in which that change has affected the field of History.
 Students will be introduced to scholarly debates within a variety of sub-fields
and sub-disciplines of history and learn how to choose and synthesize
between conflicting interpretations by expanding the program’s curriculum
into a highly-relevant era of US history and encouraging students in courses
and independent research projects to better comprehend the history of the
US through its international context.
The position would also advance the International Initiative of the College of Arts
and Science by adding a global perspective to the instruction of US history.
The current History faculty are unable to accommodate courses in the US since
1945, while a series of impending retirements will eviscerate the number of US
historians generally and severely impair the instruction of the postwar era
specifically. Within the past five years, the History Section has lost two US
historians: Michael Homel (urban, postwar US) and Robert Duke (education, 1960s
US). Linda Pritchard (US religion, women) will depart in Summer 2016. Kathleen
Chamberlain (Native Americans, US foreign relations) and JoEllen Vinyard
(Michigan, family) are on phased retirement and will depart in Fall 2016 and Winter
2018, respectively. With Russell Olwell directing ISCFC, there are only five tenured
and tenure-track US historians left in the History Section (Mark Higbee, John
McCurdy, Mary-Elizabeth Murphy, Richard Nation, and Steven Ramold) none of
whom have an expertise in the US since 1945. Instead, all five regularly teach
courses on era before 1945 with only Mark Higbee’s course on the Civil Rights
Movement qualifying as a post-1945 course. The two full-time lecturers in US
history (Russell Jones and John Wegner) are likewise not trained to teach the US
since 1945.
A tenure-track faculty position in the United States since 1945 with an emphasis on
the US in the World will be able to teach General Education courses in a number of
areas. He or she would be able to teach HIST 124: The US since 1877 (GEKS) and
HIST 115: What Is an American? (GEUS) upon arrival. More importantly, he or she
would be charged with creating new General Education courses to qualify for both
GEKS and GEUS classification. These courses might include Introduction to Latina/o
Studies; Immigration: Past and Present; or the U.S. and the Rise of Global Capitalism.
Such courses would have a broad appeal across the University.
More importantly, a position in the US since 1945 with an emphasis on the US in the
World might even cause the University to rethink the division that exists within the
General Education category of Perspectives on a Diverse World. Currently, courses
are designated as either Global Awareness or US Diversity. A well-crafted course
could challenge this artificial division and further advance the knowledge of EMU
In sum, a faculty line in post-1945 U.S. history, with an emphasis on America and the
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