Archived Story

UNA history program provides opportunities

Published 6:02am Wednesday, October 17, 2012

People may not consider history a viable option when it comes to getting a college degree, but Dr. Carolyn Barske said she hopes a new program offered at the University of North Alabama will change people’s minds.
Barske, who is a recent addition to UNA’s history department, heads up the new public history program that is a concentration within the Master’s degree program at UNA.
She said the public history program focuses on preparing students for museum work, historic preservation and oral history.
“In an area where there is such a rich amount of public history, we thought this program would be able to flourish here,” Barske said.
And she said their focus isn’t only in the Shoals area. Barske said she hoped to draw students from surrounding counties such as Franklin County into the program in the hopes that more people will become interested in the vital task of preserving the past for future generations.
“The program is designed to get the students out into the community and get them involved with local history projects,” Barske said. “We’ve been working on museum exhibits and National Historic Register nominees for different historic places in the area.”
The public history program at UNA is only one of two such programs in the state.
“This kind of concentration may not be widespread yet, but we hope to get students involved so they can share their love of history with others who might then become interested in pursuing a similar career,” Barske said.
“We not only want to give these students the skills to work in a museum or preserve oral histories, we want to help them appreciate their history and be able to present it to others in an accessible way.”
To help get students in other counties interested in the program, UNA has partnered with the Tennessee Valley Historical Society to provide endowed fund for scholarships for local high school students.
The $200, $500 and $750 scholarships are administered based on a scholarship contest that is usually held at UNA every March where students take a written exam based on American history.
Barske said this is a great way to encourage local high school students to stay interested in history
“Sometimes students don’t think they need history because it’s all things that have happened in the past, and in today’s time, it’s hard to get them to see the need for preserving that history,” Barske said.
“Through things like this scholarship contest for local high school students and the new public history program, hopefully we can start educating a whole new generation to get excited about history and preserving it for others.”
Local students interested in the scholarship contest held in March can find out more information by contacting the UNA Department of History and Political Science at history@una.edu.

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