Working Groups

Participants answered the Call in October 2008, submitted “case statements” in March, and began discussing them by email in the weeks before the conference.

    • Public History as Work
    • How Do We Get There? Racial and Ethnic Diversity within the Public History Profession
    • Bearing the Standard: Public Historians Role in the Commemorations of the Sesquicentennial of the American the Civil War
    • Where is the History in Historic Districts?
    • The Public Value of History
    • Historical Truths and Reconciliation: Interpreting Indigenous Histories
    • So You’re Teaching in a Public History Program: A Working Group
    • Digital Experiments, Collaboration, and Interactivity
    • Historical Truths and Reconciliation: The Interpretation of African American and Enslaved Peoples

What’s an Annual Meeting “working group”?

NCPH working groups are seminar-like conversations of 8-10 people before and during the annual conference that explore, in-depth, a subject of shared concern.  Working groups have a purpose they are working toward, a problem they are actively trying to solve.  The working group proposal must articulate this as well as an end product(s) that the group seeks to create.

What makes a working group unique? 

Two things.  When a group convenes at the annual meeting, the conversation has already begun. Participants are invested in the outcome. Facilitators have had time to refine their questions and perhaps refocus on the issues.  Second, facilitators lead their group in  developing an end product, such as an article, a list of resources, an exhibit, a manifesto, a white paper, or a new collaborative project.

How will they be formed for the upcoming conference?

Individuals willing to serve as facilitators propose topics in response to the Annual Meeting Call for Proposals (due July 15). The Program Committee then selects several working group topics and issues another call, this time for working group discussants, in September to October. Facilitators build their groups in the fall by selecting discussants from among people who have submitted one-paragraph requests to join.  Two to three months prior to the conference, facilitators ask each discussant in their working group to write a 2-4 page document that (1) outlines a personal statement and/or specific case study related to the working group’s organizing theme, and (2) raises questions and issues with which the participant would like to grapple in advance of the conference. These documents are circulated, and discussants are expected to take part in active online conversations prior to the conference.  Facilitators might also circulate a set of readings or assign other tasks or questions prior to the conference.  The Public History Commons is available as an online venue for pre-conference discussions, or groups may wish to set up their own sites. Participants’ case statements typically are archived in the NCPH Public History Commons Library as open-access documents (NOTE: Acceptance into a Working Group implies permission for digital archiving of pre-conference materials unless a group or individual participant stipulates otherwise.  Groups using their own sites are invited to share materials in a form that can be archived, for example a PDF file of all case statements.)

Who may participate?

Anyone who proposes a working group topic that is accepted by the Program Committee, or anyone selected by working group facilitators in the fall in response to the working group call for participants. While some facilitators make their group’s discussion at the conference private if they believe the topic is controversial and public conversation would keep their discussants from speaking their minds, most facilitators will open their working group to other conference goers who want to sit in on the discussion. Such observers may be welcome to join in the conversation but are reminded that facilitators will give priority to the group’s pre-selected discussants who, by time of the conference, will have met each other online (by email, wiki, or blog) and in this manner, are already in the middle of a conversation when they meet face-to-face.  When the group sits down at the conference, self-introductions should be limited to matching faces with names (no more than 30 seconds per person).

What happens after the annual meeting?

Facilitators report on the outcome of the discussion and/or the end product by authoring a one-paragraph summary (150-200 words) for the NCPH newsletter and, if they wish, a longer piece (750-1,000 words) for the NCPH blog, [email protected].  The newsletter report is a summary of highlights that explains the final product the group will be producing.  The blog post can be a critical review of the issue(s) discussed and should aim to demonstrate their wider relevance.

Questions? Contact the NCPH office at (317) 274-2716 or [email protected].