Scott Casper, Dean of the College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, on WYPR’s Humanities Connection

Who are we and where have we been are questions fundamental to the human existence that are studied by UMBC students as part of a well-rounded liberal arts education. Scott Casper, Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences and Professor of History, recently provided a commentary on WYPR’s Humanities Connection in which he advocated for studying the humanities as a way to prepare students for a thoughtful and civically engaged life.

Scott Casper

“In a world of polarized politics and cost-benefit analysis, our realm of possibilities is often cast as ‘either-or': Republican or Democratic, guns or butter, right or wrong. A liberal arts education encourages us to imagine another approach: not ‘either-or,’ but ‘both-and,’ a world of complexities rather than easy answers, interconnections rather than boundaries,” said Casper.

As part of his commentary, Casper outlined five distinct areas in which UMBC students encounter “both-and”: the global and the local, the changing and the timeless, the intellectual and the spiritual, the arts and the sciences, and thought and action.

“By asking questions that are fundamental to human existence and by encouraging ‘both-and,’ rather than simplistic ‘either-or,’ answers, the liberal arts prepare students at UMBC and elsewhere for a lifetime of reflection and purpose,” Casper said, adding, “the interplay of reflection and purpose is the bedrock of thoughtful citizenship, and the hallmark of a life well-lived.”

To listen to the full segment that aired on Humanities Connection, click here.

Kate Brown, History, To Speak at Baltimore Book Festival

History Professor Kate Brown will speak at this year’s Baltimore Book Festival, which runs from September 26-28. The festival features hundreds of appearances from local, celebrity and nationally-known authors. More than 100 exhibitors and booksellers will be on hand at the festival with readings, workshops and panel discussions also on the agenda.

Kate Brown

Brown is scheduled to present a talk on Friday, September 26 at 7 p.m. as part of the Ivy Bookshop author tent. She will be discussing her award-winning book, Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters (Oxford University Press, 2013), in which she tells the stories of Hanford, Washington and Ozersk, Russia. The Soviet and American governments created these communities to produce the plutonium that fueled the nuclear arms race during the Cold War.

Earlier this year, Brown was awarded the 2014 Ellis W. Hawley Prize from the Organization of American Historians (OAH) for the best book-length historical study of the political economy, politics, or institutions of the United States, in its domestic or international affairs, from the Civil War to the present. She also received the American Society for Environmental History’s George Perkins Marsh Prize for the best book in environmental history.

For more information on the Baltimore Book Festival, click here.

Anne Rubin, History, on C-SPAN

Anne RubinOn Saturday, May 31, C-SPAN 3 aired a talk given by History Associate Professor Anne Rubin at the U.S. Capitol Historical Society. The talk was part of the 2014 Civil War Symposium held at the beginning of May.

Rubin discussed Union General William T. Sherman’s March to the Sea and the concept of “civilized war.” In 1864, General Sherman marched his troops from Atlanta to Savannah, Georgia, and Rubin described the destruction along the way as setting the precedent for “total war” tactics in subsequent conflicts.

Rubin opens her talk by discussing basic Google and Internet searches of General Sherman and that many of them represent “a really popularly held view that William T. Sherman and the march through Georgia and the Carolinas in the final months of the Civil War have something to do with the creation of total war.”

You can watch the full talk on C-SPAN 3 by clicking here. Rubin’s book, A Shattered Nation: The Rise and Fall of the Confederacy, 1861-1868, won the 2006 Avery O. Craven book prize for the best book in Civil War history

Joseph L. Arnold Papers Now Open to Researchers

The Special Collections department of the Albin O. Kuhn Library, in partnership with the history department and the Center for Digital History Education, is happy to announce that the Joseph L. Arnold papers are now open for research use. The collection will be a valuable resource for researchers and students of Baltimore history.

The Joseph L. Arnold papers contain more than three decades of research on Baltimore history by the urban historian and longtime UMBC History Department faculty member. Within this collection are Dr. Arnold’s manuscripts for two works on the history of Baltimore, one organized chronologically and another thematically by ethnic/social groups. The bulk of the collection is Dr. Arnold’s extensive Baltimore subject files, mostly containing reproductions from 19th century editions of the Baltimore Sun interspersed with his hand-written notes on various topics.

Joseph Larkin Arnold (1937-2004) was a prominent urban historian and a key leader at UMBC for most of his career. Dr. Arnold joined the faculty of UMBC—then a very young institution—in 1968 after earning a PhD in social history at the Ohio State University. In his three and a half decades at UMBC, Dr. Arnold fulfilled a variety of campus leadership roles, including a term as Acting Librarian in 1979-1980.

For more information about the collection, click here.

Kate Brown, History, Wins the 2014 Ellis W. Hawley Prize from the Organization of American Historians

On Saturday, April 12 in Atlanta, History Associate Professor Kate Brown was awarded the 2014 Ellis W. Hawley Prize from the Organization of American Historians (OAH) for the best book-length historical study of the political economy, politics, or institutions of the United States, in its domestic or international affairs, from the Civil War to the present.

plutopia

Brown received the award for her book, Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters (Oxford University Press, 2013), in which she tells the stories of Hanford, Washington and Ozersk, Russia. The Soviet and American governments created these communities to produce the plutonium that fueled the nuclear arms race during the Cold War.

In a press release announcing the award, OAH stated: “Brown notes that the major accidents at Hanford and Ozersk were largely unknown to the public, in contrast to the recognition today of Chernobyl and Fukushima. But the costs to the well-being of the workers and the environment were arguably far higher. This revelatory history provides a highly readable and deeply researched model of transnational history.”

Last month, Brown was awarded the 2014 George Perkins Marsh Prize from the American Society for Environmental History (ASEH), also for her book, Plutopia.

George Derek Musgrove, History, Op-Ed in The Washington Post

Washington, D.C. hasn’t directly funded its shadow delegation to Congress, the city’s official statehood lobby, since the first elections for the positions were held in 1990. However, just last week, Mayor Vincent Gray released a budget for fiscal 2015 that includes $100,000 for the delegation.

Derek Musgrove

George Derek Musgrove ’97, history, assistant professor of history, wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post titled, “D.C.’s shadow delegation: It’s not the money, it’s the strategy,” in which he argued the money could help the delegation, but only if it changes its approach.

“Since its creation, the shadow delegation has focused its energy on lobbying members of Congress on Capitol Hill. Though its efforts get support from the small number of members who already favor statehood, the delegation has never been able to persuade those on the fence, let alone outright opponents, to support their cause,” Musgrove wrote.

Musgrove wrote in order to attain its goals, the delegation must learn from lessons in D.C.’s history, such as the campaign for the D.C. Voting Rights Amendment.

“The 2015 budget could give the shadow delegation funding it needs to expand its lobbying operation. But the history of the struggle for D.C. self-determination teaches that, to have any success, it needs to adopt a strategy that can reach the folks back home,” he adds.

To read the full op-ed in The Washington Post, click here.

George Derek Musgrove, History, in The Washington Post

Derek MusgroveA recent Washington Post column explores the possibility of District Mayor Vincent Gray being indicted on federal criminal charges while running for reelection. Gray has said he wouldn’t resign if the charges were brought and would defend himself at trial.

George Derek Musgrove ’97, history, assistant professor of history, was interviewed for the column and offered his perspective on what a trial would mean for Gray if he were to continue governing.

A trial “would be horrible — it would just be a magnification of the current situation,” Musgrove said. He added such a spectacle would hurt the city’s relations with Congress and hamper Gray’s performance.

Musgrove is currently writing a book about race and democracy in the District. To read the full column in The Washington Post, click here.