Offered by: 
Professional Development, History and Social Studies
Dec 12 2013 - 4:30pm

This year, the History Institute series welcomes expert scholars to discuss the historical origins of contemporary events. By looking closely at Central Asia, the Middle East, the idea of American exceptionalism and the modern environmental movement, we will gain essential perspective on stories in the news today.

Following the talk, teachers will work with primary sources relating to the topic and explore ways to introduce the topics and sources into the classroom, connecting to content taught and the Common Core.

Individual sessions:

  • December 12, 2013: Professor Mary Wilson (Syria), Syria: The Middle of the Middle East
    In this session, we will explore the region we call the “Middle East” and the conceptual changes that have defined what this region may include.  Since the term was first used in Britain and the United States, we will then consider what those who named the region had in mind and how definitions have changed over time.  This will take us into the realms of global strategy, geography, religions, and peoples of the area.  In whatever way the Middle East may be defined geographically, Syria lies at its center.  Therefore we will then shift our gaze to Syria and how the above categories--global strategy, geography, religions and peoples--have played out in the civil war since 2011.
  • January 23, 2014: Professor Audrey Altstadt (Caspian Basin), Energy and Human Rights in the Caspian Basin
    The oil and gas-producing states around the Caspian Sea -- Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran-- have poor human rights records but the US and EU need their energy resources. For the US, as frequent champion of human rights and democratic rule, this dichotomy presents a philosophical and political dilemma. This presentation will examine energy and human rights in the region and view up close a few cases illustrating Western preference for energy security over human rights.
  • March 27, 2014: Professor Chris Appy, Who We Are: The Vietnam War and the End of "American Exceptionalism”
    “American exceptionalism” was a core tenet of national identity since the 17th century. Promoters of the creed have insisted that the U.S. was unrivaled not only in its resources, wealth, and military might, but in its values and institutions, its rights and opportunities. And unlike other powerful nations, the U.S. was said to act always as a force for good in the world. This talk explores how the Vietnam War posed fundamental challenges to the faith in American exceptionalism. We will also examine post-Vietnam efforts to revive it.
  • May 8, 2014: Professor David Glassberg, Learning from American Environmental History
    Studying environmental history offers middle and high school students insights into the ways that past generations of Americans imagined and shaped the land, as well as helps students to understand the roots of the current environmental crises that they are inheriting. The workshop will explore various topics in American Environmental History as represented by documents, prints and photographs, and motion pictures available on-line through the Library of Congress and other repositories.

Audience and Grade Level

Teachers, K-12


A light supper will be provided


12 PDPs and a $100 stipend are available for completion of all four sessions.


There are four sessions in this series, taking place on the following dates:

  • December 12, 2013, 4:30pm - 7:00pm
  • January 23, 2014, 4:30pm - 7:00pm
  • March 27, 2014, 4:30pm - 7:00pm
  • May 8, 2014, 4:30pm - 7:00pm


All sessions take place in Rooms A and B at the Collaborative for Educational Services in Northampton. Click here for directions.

Cost and Registration

There is no charge for this program, thanks to a Teaching American History grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Space is limited, register now!

You may register online by completing the form on the right side of this page. The deadline for registration is December 5, 2013.

Important Information — A $35 deposit check is required to hold your place in the series. Deposit checks will be held and returned to those successfully completing the 2013-2014 History Institute.

Deposit checks, payable to Collaborative for Educational Services (CES), should be mailed to the following address:

Emerging America, Attn. Suzanne Judson-Whitehouse
Collaborative for Educational Services 
97 Hawley Street, Northampton, MA 01060

Should you need to withdraw, you must notify CES Professional Development by December 5, 2013 (Attn: Suzanne Judson-Whitehouse, sjudsonwhitehouse@collaborative.org, 413.586.4900 x162, 413.586.2878 Fax). In the event of late withdrawal or failure to attend your session(s), the deposit is forfeited.


Download Registration Form

Click here to download the registration form.

Further Information

For further information please contact:

Jill Robinson
413.586.4900 x183

Instructor and Guest Speakers

Suzanne Judson-Whitehouse is the Assistant Director for the Emerging America program at the Collaborative for Educational Services. Prior to coming to CES, she worked for 10 years in museum multimedia exhibit design and development. She is proud to partner with the Library of Congress, developing ways to share the rich resources available through the Library’s website to engage students with primary sources and promote inquiry-based learning, a central focus of the Common Core State Standards.

Guest Speakers:

  • Professor Mary Wilson, History Department, UMass Amherst (Website). Professor Wilson specializes in the history of the modern Middle East. She is co-author of The Modern Middle East Reader.
  • Professor Audrey Altstadt, History Department, UMass Amherst (Website). Professor Altstadt is the author of The Azerbaijani Turks, on Azerbaijan under Russian imperial and Soviet rule. She specializes in the history of Soviet nationalities in Central Asia.
  • Professor Chris Appy, History Department, UMass Amherst (Website). Professor Appy is the author of Patriots: The Vietnam War Remember From All Sides. He specializes in modern U.S. History and the Vietnam War.
  • Professor David Glassberg, History Department, UMass Amherst (Website). Professor Glassberg specializes in environmental history and public history. He is the author of Sense of History: Place of the Past in American Life.


A Program of UMass Amherst Department of History and the Collaborative for Educational Services



Collaborative for Educational Services
97 Hawley St
Northampton, MA 01060

Online registration for this course or event has been disabled due to capacity limits or because the "Register By" date has passed.

If the start date has not yet passed, please call 413-586-4900 to see if there are any seats available. Late fee's may apply.