On Feb. 17, 2016, the History Department held an all-day student and alumni conference.
The conference involved 18 student papers (both undergrads and grad students). It opened with a panel on historiography chaired by Elizabeth Ricketts. The panel (pictured below) featured honors thesis proposals by two freshmen, Richard Napotnik and Marisa Murray, and included papers written on historiography in Honors Core by Kimberly Imel and Shannon Stirling.
Papers from students were on incredibly varied topics. From papers on viking death culture and Daoist sexual vampirism on the "Death, Spirits, and the Cosmos" panel to papers focused on local western Pennsylvania history on the Local History panel.
Students were excited to participate in and attend the history conference. Each panel had between 25 and 40 attendees.
The conference also featured an alumni panel where five IUP history alumni returned to talk about their careers in the field of public history.
Pictured above left, from left to right: Megan Sheesley, manager of Development Resources, Westmoreland Museum of American Art; David Harkleroad, interpretive park ranger, Fort Necessity National Battlefield and Friendship Hill National Historical Site; Adam Shaffer, park ranger, Flight 93 National Memorial; Lynn Rice, museum experience manager, Frick Art and Historical Center; Hilary Walczak, college archivist, Grove City College
Students flocked to the alumni panel, pictured below, to learn valuable information about skills and strategies for finding history-related jobs.
The panel was structured as an informal question and answer session directed by Jeanine Mazak-Kahne, one of the History Department faculty who specializes in public history.
Students were also given a chance to ask questions of the alumni, and there was a lively discussion during the panel.
The conference ended with a keynote presentation by Lara Putnam, professor and chair of the University of Pittsburgh History Department, titled “A Child’s History of Border Regimes: Families, Migration, and State-Making in the Americas.”
The History Department is planning on holding this conference annually in the fall, with next year's scheduled for October 2016.