Instructional Leadership, emphasis: K-12 School Leadership (MEd)
History program students at Walnut Canyon.

History Department Updates

Public History

The NAU Public History program had an exciting fall as we welcomed three new students into the MA Program: Ashley O’Hara, who came to us after working as the curator at the Crested Butte Museum in Colorado, and Emily Roth and William Batson, both of whom were NAU history majors. We also congratulate second-year students Lindsey Cillis and Katie Scholler, who completed their Public History internships over the summer. Lindsey worked at Riordan Mansion State Historic Park in Flagstaff, and Katie added a new partner to our program by becoming the first NAU Public History intern at the Sedona Heritage Museum. They must have enjoyed their internships because both have continued volunteering at their respective sites. In addition, Katie is now starting a thesis project on the history of women’s auxiliaries in the US labor movement with Professor Leilah Danielson, while Lindsey is working on a public history project with Professor Michael Amundson on the mysterious Celine Riordan, wife of Flagstaff pioneer Matt Riordan, who first purchased the Ayer Lumber Mill in 1887.  

Two former undergraduate Public History students were also in the news this fall. 

Melissa Valenzuela, who graduated in spring 2023 after having interned and worked at Lowell Observatory, started in the Public History Master’s Program at NYU. In a recent postcard, Melissa said she was living in Brooklyn, taking the subway to classes every day, and loving every minute of it!

Likewise, Tanner Hammarstrom, who will be graduating in December 2023, completed an internship with Walnut Canyon National Monument this summer and then worked for an archaeological survey crew on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. In an email, Tanner related that he often spent days walking across the Arizona Strip’s open range scanning for historic archaeological sites. Such interesting and divergent paths from two students in the same Public History course!

history program at dinner at la Posada

Speaking of interesting journeys, I very much enjoyed teaching this fall’s co-convened Public History in person after spending two years on Zoom during Covid. The fifteen-member class made our usual site visits to Lowell Observatory Archives, Riordan Mansion State Park, and Walnut Canyon National Monument. In addition, in late September, History Department Chair Leilah Danielson and History Professor Scott Reese joined the class and former students Katie Scholler and Tanner Hammarstrom on a site visit to Winslow, Arizona, for a special tour of La Posada Hotel with its owner and preservationist extraordinaire, Allan Affeldt. Allen not only took the NAU contingent on a behind-the-scenes tour of the 1930 Mary Colter-designed hotel but also led us through underground tunnels, discussed his wife Tina Mion’s amazing art gallery, and showed us the grounds. He then guided us to the museum in the old train depot and the adjacent newly opened exhibit featuring the world’s largest Navajo rug. It was an amazing tour! Afterward, we all enjoyed lunch at the famous Turquoise Room at La Posada. Thanks so much to the NAU History Department and all our Public History partners at Lowell, Riordan, Walnut Canyon, and now La Posada for supporting our students.

– Mike Amundson

Social Studies Education Program

We’ve been particularly active in the realm of professional development lately, geared toward our BSEd students and in-service teachers locally and nationally. Our very own Professor Christi Carlson is serving as President of the Arizona Council for History Education (ACHE) this year and helped organize a conference in September entitled “The History of Histories” at ASU. Dr. Lauren Lefty also helped run a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) K–12 Teacher Institute this summer, which brought 25 educators from across the country together with leading scholars for a seminar on youth activism in the Civil Rights Movement in collaboration with the Children’s Defense Fund’s Freedom Schools program. Two of our seniors, Joey Uribe and Efrainn Estrada, participated in the Murray and Sabina Zemel z”l Educators Conference on the Holocaust and Genocide in Phoenix in October, alongside representatives from NAU’s Martin-Springer Institute and teachers from FUSD. And this November, the History Department hosted Dr. Jon Hale for a fascinating History in the Headlines talk on school choice and racial equity. Professors Lefty and Carlson led a companion book club for FUSD teachers in anticipation of the event. Dr. Hale also held a pedagogy workshop on the theme of youth agency with BSEd candidates, where students engaged with primary source material and discussed civic action ideas. Our amazing History Ed students have also been busy offering their skills to projects across campus. Liv Hall, Matt Lankton, Meagan Engels, and Fredreka Wheeler are working with Dr. Lefty to create companion educator resources for the Martin-Springer Institute’s Spanish Civil War Fan website. All in all, it’s been an exciting and busy fall in the BSEd program, and we look forward to sharing more news and updates as the year progresses!

– Dr. Lauren Lefty