Posts Tagged ‘European history’

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Spotlight on Robin West

In Spotlight on March 7, 2016 by Randolph Hollingsworth Tagged: , ,

Robin West 2016

Robin West, Ph.D.

Dr. Robin West, Assistant Professor of History at Madisonville Community College, was elected last fall as KATH’s new representative for Kentucky community and technical colleges. We asked him to tell us more about himself and let the KATH membership know more about him.


What is your current school and alma mater/s: Faculty member at Madisonville Community College since 2011; PhD, Indiana State University; BA, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN.

What are your fields of interest: The American Revolutionary Era and Constitutional history; African-American History; 19th Century European “Isms” and their relationship to WWI & WWII.

When did you first develop an interest in history? While I have had some amazing history teachers in my life, I attribute my interest in history to my Mom. As a young boy growing up in Crawfordsville, Indiana, Mom often took me to the home of Henry S. Lane and the Lew Wallace study. I remember the sense of awe I felt walking through these places as I gazed in wonderment upon all the things that seemed so old. These were my first experiences with things historical and seeing them stimulated a fascination and love for history that continues to inspire the same sense of wonderment that I felt as a young child.

How have your interests changed since graduate school? This is a hard question given that I never really focused on any one topic or issue to begin with. That said, I think there are two areas that I have given more attention to in my reading and teaching in more recent years. Prior to coming to MCC, I had the opportunity to teach a humanities course, The Humanities in the Western Tradition. This is when I fell in love with the humanities and first began to see the connection between the events of history and the products of history. It was fascinating to see how philosophy, literature, religion, art, architecture, music, history and language represented a cultural expression of the experiences of different civilizations. The humanities, if you will, allowed me (and my students) to feel a sense of connection to those who have come before us and, our contemporaries as well. Over the past several years I have also become very interested in the relationship between ideas and the events of history. In particular, the isms of the 19th century and the coming of the World Wars is an area of focus. I like to tell my students, that “ideas and theories become experiments when removed from the written page and are implemented in the real world of human events;” and sometimes, as WWI and WWII demonstrated, experiments can have tragic consequences. As a teacher of history, I think it absolutely critical that my students see and understand the connection between the abstract world of ideas and theories to the concrete events of history.

What projects are you working on currently? Because my primary focus is teaching, most projects that I am working on involve implementing innovative teaching methodologies into the classroom. Right now I am on the first go round of implementing the “flipped classroom” approach in my History of Europe: Mid-17th Century to the Present. It is a work in progress.

Is there an article, book, movie, blog, etc., that you could recommend to fellow KATH members? I guess I could have included this in the changing interests section, but I didn’t. In times past, I have never been overly interested in the American Civil War; during the past two years that has changed. I would like to recommend three books to my fellow historians: Freedom’s Cap: The United States Capitol and the Coming of the Civil War by Guy Gugliotta; Rise to Greatness: Abraham Lincoln and America’s Most Perilous Year by David Von Drehle; and Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin. You will find all three of these books hard to put down; they provide three outstanding examples of the way history should be written.

Any final thoughts?

“How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy!” Thomas Jefferson

“Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.” Daniel Webster

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Spotlight: Angela Ash, Owensboro CTC

In Spotlight on August 27, 2013 by Randolph Hollingsworth Tagged: , , , , ,

Angela Ash, OCTC

Angela Ash, OCTC

Keeping the focus on our KATH Member-in-the-Spotlight, this time we present 2012-13 KATH Board Member, Angela Ash, who represents Kentucky Community & Technical Colleges. (See past KATH Spotlight articles by clicking here.)

Current school and alma mater/s:  Assistant Professor of History at Owensboro Community and Technical College; MA 2005 University of Louisville; BA 2003 Brescia University; AA Owensboro Community College

Fields of interest: English Reformation, French Revolution, 19th Century Europe, World War I, Jewish History, Military History.

When did you first develop an interest in history? I remember as a child, my mother bringing home books on the Holocaust and World War II from her bookstore, and my father’s deep interest in the American Civil War also made a lasting impression.  I carried this with me through high school, where my favorite courses were World Civilizations and American History, in the US Navy, where our RDC’s would quiz us on American Naval History, and then in college, where I had amazing History professors like Dr. Marc Maltby for American History at Owensboro Community College, and Dr. Frances Brown for European History at Brescia University.  I knew then, as a college student, that I wanted to devote my life to the study of history, and emulate my professors to the best of my ability with the hopes of connecting with students in the same way.

How have your interests changed since graduate school? In graduate school, my focus was researching the dimensions of the English Reformation, particularly the dissolution of monasteries and the overall impact.  However, after a few years of teaching, reading and researching independently, I have transferred that same passion to military and diplomatic history; 19th century Europe and World War I have been my objects of study for the past few years.  I also have spent much of the time since graduate school improving my teaching – finding ways to make history relevant and exciting to students.

What projects are you working on currently? My current projects include preparing a Constitution Day presentation for my campus on the European roots of the American system of government, participation in a panel discussion and local documentary on the European front in World War II sponsored by the Daviess County Public Library, and recruiting students to sign up for a 2014 summer study course I plan to teach with a colleague, involving a trip to the Czech Republic, Austria, and Poland.

Is there an article, book, movie, blog, etc., that you could recommend to fellow KATH members?  One of my favorite books is a classic – Niall Ferguson’s The Pity of War, and my favorite documentary is the PBS masterpiece “The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century.”

What do you value most about the history profession? I value the time I get to spend with the students, and the opportunity I have to help them understand the human story and how it relates to them.  To me, it is a huge responsibility, and every class session is a chance to make the past matter in a culture where what happened “before me” is not necessarily valued.

Other than history, what are you passionate about? My eight year old daughter Gracie tops that list, but I also love to travel when possible, watch old films, study languages (when I can), and listen to music, though my taste is quite eclectic.

Any final thoughts?  I have a favorite quote from Plato that I sometimes share with students – “Only the dead have seen the end of war,” which is rather grim, but drives home an important point about past and present conflict.

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