Kate Crosby, Graduate Student, University of South Carolina

Proposal Type

Structured Conversation

  • Seeking Additional Presenters
  • Seeking General Feedback and Interest
Related Topics
  • Civic Engagement
  • Inclusion

Younger public history professionals have been trained not only in the methods of public history, but also in the ethics of the profession. In entering our first public history institutions as professionals, we sometimes encounter spaces where older interpretive formats and ideas of who the public is and how we should serve them have stagnated. Often lowest in the institutional power structure, we feel an obligation to use our education to advocate for change, but how do we do so in ways that are productive and encourage excitement, rather than resentment and entrenchment from both superiors and some stakeholders? How do we advocate for changes within our institutions? What changes do we want to see?


This structured conversation works to include collaborators of a variety of ages to reflect on the ways in which millennials entering the workforce have the power to shape institutions and to think about the ways in which they have succeeded or failed to create change within their institutions. Millennials have been taught to encourage inclusiveness, to push boundaries, and engage in tough questions that have been considered “off-limits” in the past, such as the historical effects of racism and climate change. They have grown up in a time of conflict, and many of them have participated personally in a variety of marches, petitions, and other forms of advocacy outside our roles as historians. Are the contributions of millennials different than more established professionals? If so, how? The session will begin with brief, 5-10 minute comments for each participant, followed by a conversation with attendees about what kinds of advocacy and change they see happening in their institutions, methods of success, pitfalls to avoid, and thoughts for going forward. For our proposal submission, we are looking for both feedback and more potential participants.

If you have a direct offer of assistance, sensitive criticism, or wish to pass along someone’s contact information confidentially, please get in contact directly: Kate Crosby, [email protected]

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

All feedback and offers of assistance should be submitted by July 2, 2017.


1 comment
  1. Benjamin Filene says:

    I think this is an important, even brave, idea to explore. You might want to think about whether you’re making a generational point (“Millennials think differently than their preceding generations) or whether the dynamic you’re describing is about the relatively recent professionalization of the field, with younger people coming in with more formal training (and, perhaps, more idealism) than their more experienced colleagues. It could be both! Regardless, I think it’s important to have a conversation that’s not just about culture-clash but about how younger workers are being treated in the field, especially in smaller institutions that are so under-resourced that young people often seem to end up in quite challenging work situations.

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