Jason Steinhauer, Program Specialist, The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress

Proposal Type: Other

Abstract: INTRODUCING: HISTORY COMMUNICATORS. Just as science has its science communicators, history needs history communicators. The 21st century necessitates that the history profession cultivate a designated class of communicators who present historical scholarship to non-experts, generate support for research, and inform policymakers and the public. Academic historians should not be responsible for promoting and explaining their work to the public; that complex and political task of bringing historical research out of the scholarly communication cycle and into the mainstream requires a unique set of skills that must be cultivated, practiced, and applied across the wide range of media now available. Scholars should focus on conducting deep research, writing, publishing, teaching and working toward tenure. History communicators should operate at the edge and intersection of new historical scholarship and the constantly-evolving world of communicating it to the public through digital, creative, polemical, and institutional arenas.

Seeking: This new idea and concept would work well as a Ted-style talk. I’d like to collaborate with others who either agree or disagree, though–either as a point/counterpoint, a roundtable discussion, a pecha kucha, or other experimental form TBD, to draw out the discussion and provoke reflection and conversation among the audience.

Related Topics: Digital, Civic Engagement, Policy

If you have a direct offer of assistance, sensitive criticism, or wish to share contact information for other people the proposer should reach out to, please get in contact directly: Jason Steinhauer, jste[at]loc.gov

If you have general ideas or feedback to share please feel free to use the comments feature below.



  1. Denise Meringolo says:

    I think Kathleen Thompson –who proposed something on blogging– might be a good partner for you to think through your idea and decide on a format.

  2. Jean-Pierre Morin says:

    This is a very provocative position and one that may well generate some interesting debate. I think it would be useful for the proposal to settle on a specific format (I’d suggest a roundtable) and look to get some Public Historians from across the board to get their perspectives.

  3. I love this idea and agree with Denise that possibly collaborating with the proposer of the ” blogging” panel might be a good idea. Also, does this have some possible relationship to the History Relevance Campaign project described here: http://publichistorycommons.org/what-is-the-history-relevance-campaign/ ? And, could it also be related to conversations about what skills could/should be taught in history/public history graduate programs? Just some thoughts.

  4. I have been trying to stir up interest on broadcasting history, a topic which seems to overlap yours. Few responded to my proposal “Broadcasting History” at the commons. Would you like to participate in my session (which so far has none but me; or would you like to include me in yours ? I might present the argument that historian do today have an obligation to remake themselves into history communicators; as I was forced to retrain myself.

    In any case, Tuesday is the deadline ! Do let me know.

    David Dunaway

  5. Thanks, everyone, for the wonderful enthusiasm and support. The proposal is in! We’ve assembled a tremendous panel. In the meantime, I’ve expanded on the idea a bit on my blog, and will continue to think and talk about the concept in advance of next April. Hope to see everyone at the conference!

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