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New partnership fast tracks careers in history

New partnership fast tracks careers in history

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Students who want to use their creativity to preserve, present, and interpret history can now fast track their careers, thanks to a partnership between Fort Lewis College and the University of Colorado Denver that lets aspiring historians complete both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Public History in just five years. 

Under the “3-2 Master’s Degree” program starting this fall, History majors will be able to apply for the program during their junior year. If accepted, they will complete their senior year in CU Denver’s Public History & Preservation program, earning both their bachelor’s degree and completing their first year toward their master’s degree in Public History. They will then complete both programs in five years rather than the traditional six or seven. 

“Public history looks at ways to present history to the general public,” explains Professor of History Michael Martin, who is coordinating the 3-2 program for FLC. “Majors learn how to put together interpretive displays, archive materials, or run the business side of libraries, museums, and cultural-heritage centers.”

CU Denver’s Public History master’s degree program is also designed for students who want to immediately launch their careers and those who want to continue their education in a doctorate program.

At FLC, History majors with a Public History concentration study experience a broad overview of the field -- archives, libraries, museums, cultural-heritage centers. And they get hands-on experiences unusual for undergraduates, thanks to nearby and regional facilities like the Center of Southwest Studies, the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, the Anasazi Heritage Center, Mesa Verde National Park, and more. 

In Denver, in the CU master’s program, “They'll get to narrow into a specific field that they want to pursue,” Martin says. “Also, by being up in Denver studying public history, they’ll have access to all sorts of museums, archives, libraries, cultural centers, the Colorado Historical Society, and more, for their internships and research projects, getting even more hands-on experiences than the amazing ones we start them with here.”

CU Denver’s Public History master’s degree program is also designed for students who want to immediately launch their careers and those who want to continue their education in a doctorate program. “And, you know, with the job growth in this area, we're going to need experts in public history,” Martin says. “In the next 10 years, there is predicted to be 4% to 7% job growth in the public history realm.”

An example of a growing industry that puts public history skills into action is archiving. Archivists make sure that records, documents, and historic items that need to be saved for future generations are properly stored, sorted, and cataloged so people can easily find the material they're looking for and get access to it.

“Everybody thinks that archivists just work in dusty, dirty basements,” Martin says. “I always tell them, think Coca-Cola, Disney, and other big companies. They all have archivists they employ to keep track of their history, making stuff accessible to the public for whatever uses they might need.”

“Archivists can work all over the place. Even the Grateful Dead has an archivist!” he laughs. “What better job is there than to go and keep track of their history?”

Learn more about the 3-2 Master’s Degree program in Public History here

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