Public History at NAU
Public History is offered in our M.A. program as a secondary primary emphasis. The field of public history is much broader than museum studies. It includes historical consulting, interpretation, curating, historic preservation, and the creation of digital histories. Careers include government historians, oral historians, cultural resource managers, film and media producers, historic preservationists, policy advisers, and community activists. Regardless of the position, all public historians share an interest and commitment to making history relevant and useful in the public sphere.
Following the National Council on Public History’s (NCPH) “Best Practices Guidelines,” (https://ncph.org/) our public history program first trains students to be excellent historians. Public history students take the same theoretical and methodological courses as their peers in other emphases. Then, following the NCPH’s guidelines, public history students follow a prescribed course of study that introduces them to skills-oriented training. These include:
- HIS 502: a graduate seminar in public history
- a public history elective (such as Museum Studies 599 or Anthropology 534 Foundations of Cultural Resource Management)
- HIS 686, an approved internship with a museum, archives, or similar institution
Finally, depending on whether they are taking extended coursework or are writing a thesis, public history students will be assessed through the presentation and defense of a portfolio, a thesis, or a public history project.
Over the last four years, NAU public history students have completed internships with the National Park Service, Riordan Mansion State Park, Cline Library Special Collections and Archives, Lowell Observatory, and the Utah Historical Society.