Course Description

This course is designed to provide a focused, hands-on immersion into how history is promulgated by one of the leading stewards of our nation’s history – the National Park Service (NPS). At Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, you will actively apply knowledge gained through lectures, group discussion, directed readings, research, interviews, and hands-on lab work to a practical final project. As described briefly in an earlier post, this quarter the project will be a presentation and report to the National Park Service in Washington, D.C. and will contribute to the agency’s official sesquicentennial commemoration.

In structuring the class, I’m seeking to combine three learning threads: 1) the NPS’ role as a purveyor of public history, complete with its own history, traditions, policies, regulations, and guidelines; 2) the field of historical interpretation, with an emphasis on digital storytelling and audio podcasting; and 3) specific knowledge of the Civil War and the upcoming sesquicentennial, with an emphasis on its public memory (what has/has not been told, what is/isn’t being told, why, and who is doing the telling) and its past and present commemoration.

Together, these three threads will provide the focus for the course and the foundation for the final project.

Throughout the course, you will work with me and other NPS park rangers and public history professionals throughout the national park system.

Upon completion of this course, it is my hope that you will have gained:

  • a strong working knowledge of professional work opportunities in history outside of academia;
  • in-depth knowledge, via a case-study format, of how systematic history-based programming is planned and created in an agency such as the National Park Service;
  • practical training you would not normally receive in the traditional history classroom setting;
  • experience creating and presenting a history-based management plan  that meets professional standards in historic interpretation to national leaders in the field of public history;
  • a practical and marketable skill set in historical interpretation;
  • experience planning and crafting a new media project that interprets the American Civil War as a struggle between competing visions for a Nation, experienced differently by different people – depending on race, gender, politics, geography, socioeconomic status, and cultural background;
  • a fun, creative, and challenging learning experience in your national park.

About Greg Shine

Adjunct faculty in the History Department at Portland State University, where I teach historic site interpretation. Former Chief Ranger & Historian at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.
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