Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Rise and Fall of an International Counterculture, 1960–1975

By our very own Jeremi Suri...

" In the decades after World War II, cultural rebellion became common again in urbanized industrial societies—capitalist and communist—where groups of young citizens articulated feelings of “alienation.” Rock music, beat poetry, and abstract expressionist art voiced common criticisms of how the pressures of social conformity destroyed individualism. Through these media, and others, many European and American youth sought to reassert their individuality and their connection to something they viewed as “nature,” as opposed to the “unnatural” industrial world advertised around them. Similarly, advocates of free living, free love, and free drugs claimed that they were returning human beings to the pursuit of pleasure, rather than state‐manipulated wealth and power. By the early 1960s, these cultural critiques had attained widespread public recognition on both sides of the Atlantic. They were oppositional, but they were not overtly politically threatening—at least not yet."

For the full article, visit the website.

New history course on U.S. ‘grand strategy’ reaches out to modern military leaders

If ignorance of history makes one more likely to repeat it, as the saying goes, then the stakes of historical knowledge are at their highest when involving military strategy and war.

A new summer course at UW-Madison will examine the successes and failures of America's foreign policy "grand strategy" during the past century. The course will investigate the trajectory of U.S. involvement in two world wars, the wars in Korea and Vietnam, and the contemporary Middle East wars, and how mistakes in one conflict often fueled success in others.

What makes the course especially unique is its target audience: current and future U.S. military leaders.

Jeremi Suri, professor of history, has teamed with retired United States Navy Capt. Scott Mobley to organize an eight-week graduate-level summer course that is especially suited for the needs and interests of U.S. military personnel. The course will be offered from June 15-Aug. 7 in a flexible online format that allows students to complete the coursework at their convenience.

The flexible form of delivery is key, Suri says.

"One of the biggest problems we face is that the people who can use this knowledge most are the ones who have the hardest time coming to campus," Suri says.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt glances at Europe on his Oval Office globe. Roosevelt's decisions during World War II will be part of the UW-Madison history department's new "grand strategies" course.

Mobley, who is the course coordinator and military liaison, is also a graduate student in the UW-Madison history program. He helped design the curriculum and is working to recruit officers and senior enlisted leaders from all four branches of the military.

Mobley says the need is out there for this type of supplemental education. The armed forces have strong academic programs offered through military academies and the war colleges, but options for continuing education can be limited over the course of a 20- or 30-year military career.

The interest is equally strong, he says. When Mobley was deployed to the Persian Gulf in 2002-03, the Navy sent teams of scholars to the naval carriers to offer intensive courses on areas of key interest, such as Middle East culture and history, political issues in Iran and other topics. The professors would do teaching rotations at different ships to reach the biggest audiences. "All the officers looked forward to attending these talks. We just soaked it up," he says.

While the course is open to anyone, Suri says they are looking to recruit a core group to which foreign policy is "the lifeblood of their work," including people in international policy, law and business.

"Policymakers are very hungry for institutions not to justify what they're doing, but help them think through what they are doing," Suri says. "I think there's a false assumption that if you're working with the military, then you're automatically supporting specific aims. I think they look to us for intellectual enhancement."

Suri also says he hopes the course represents a trend of greater collaboration between the military and the academic world, which has experienced strained relationships stemming from the divisiveness of the Vietnam War. Both sides became distrustful and politically polarized, and faculty showed a reluctance to teach military topics. "There is a new generation of academics today who are much more engaged on these topics, and the politics tend to be less predictable," Suri says.

The best example of the value of understanding military history might come from the end of World War II, Suri says. Policy leaders at that time made a concerted decision to invest in the rebuilding of the countries that Allied forces just defeated, in Germany and Japan. The decision not to do so after World War I was disastrous and in part paved the way for the second war.

"I think that what happened at Abu Ghraib is an example of historical ignorance in action," Suri adds. "Everything in the way that facility was set up reflected a profound ignorance of the dynamics we have seen historically in the treatment of prisoners."

To pre-register or learn more about the course "American Foreign Policy: A History of U.S. Grand Strategy from 1901 to the Present," contact Mobley at 608-265-0484, mobley@wisc.edu, or visit this site.

LIFE DURING WARTIME: A Teach American History Grant

CESA 5, in collaboration with Madison Area Technical College, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, and the Madison Metropolitan School District, has received a three-year grant from the United States Department of Education’s Teaching American History program. Titled “Life During Wartime,” this grant seeks to improve the teaching of traditional U. S. history. Through content-rich discussions with nationally-known scholars and independent research, participants will learn how to teach history using primary sources.

What is Life During Wartime?

  • It’s a chance to enhance your knowledge of 19th and 20th-century American history, especially the prelude to war, periods of wars, and the transition from wartime to peacetime.
  • It’s professional development that will prepare you to bring original documents into your classrooms in creative ways that deepen your students’ understanding of the past.
  • It’s a series of lectures and get-togethers with historians from around Wisconsin and across the United States.
  • It’s a chance to learn how to do history as a part of teaching history.
  • It’s a way to share ideas with engaged teachers from Madison and central Wisconsin.

Media coverage:
‘Life During Wartime’ will build innovative curriculum around American war history"
(April 30, 2008)
by Kristin Czubkowski

"Feds give $1-million to teach history" (April 30, 2008)
By Jackie Johnson, Wisconsin Radio Network

Learning About Life At Home During War (April 30, 2008)
By PATRICIA SIMMS, Wisconsin State Journal

"History classes could get more interesting" (April 29, 2008)
By Jackie Johnson, Wisconsin Radio Network

‘Life During Wartime’ will build innovative curriculum around American war history

A new Wisconsin project funded by the U.S. Department of Education will feature an unprecedented partnership among public school teachers, university and technical college faculty, and the Wisconsin Veterans Museum to invigorate the teaching of American history.

Photo from event announcing new Life During Wartime class

Stanley Schultz, left, emeritus professor of history and a nationally known scholar on American history, comments on a new Wisconsin project, "Life During Wartime," during a press briefing at the Wisconsin Veterans Museum on April 29, 2008. The $940,000 project, funded over three years by the U.S. Department of Education, is an unprecedented partnership among public school teachers, university and technical college faculty, and the Wisconsin Veterans Museum to invigorate the teaching of American history. Richard Zeitlin, center, is director of the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, and Todd Zoellick, right, is deputy U.S. secretary of education.

Photo: Jeff Miller

Called "Life During Wartime," the $940,000 project will be funded over three years to connect eminent historians and veterans with 150 history teachers in the region. The project is intended to build a rich curriculum around the American experience at home and abroad, from the Civil War to the present, and build a political, social and personal connection to the nation's past.

The partnership includes teachers from the Cooperative Education Service Area No. 5 (CESA 5) serving central Wisconsin and the Madison Metropolitan School District; historians from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Madison Area Technical College (MATC); the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, an activity of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs; and veteran volunteers.

Jonathan Pollack, an American history professor at MATC, says "Life During Wartime" will have a particular emphasis on World War II and beyond, a segment of American history that is often under-presented in history teaching. The program will go beyond a political timeline, Pollack says, and go into the lives of soldiers deployed and their families at home during war.

He says that the program aims to add to the knowledge base of fifth grade through high school teachers with more detailed, specific material on American history topics. Susan Fulks, director of instructional technology service for CESA 5, adds that high school teachers in small-school districts such as those in the CESA 5 area often teach many social studies courses, which requires them to have a general knowledge of many areas.

"They teach three, four, five different classes, so they come in with a broad understanding, but they're probably not history majors, so this will give them an opportunity to learn some content," she says. She adds that many of them are the only social studies teachers in their school, and that bringing them together in the program as well as with Madison social studies teachers will allow them to build relationships and learn from each other.

Curriculum details are still being worked out before the project begins in July but will likely involve a weeklong summer institute as well as regular weekend programs and talks from renowned history scholars. Teachers will be paid for their time and receive one graduate school credit for the summer institute, says Jeremi Suri, a UW-Madison history professor, and substitute teachers will be provided for any school-year events.

"We're trying to make it flexible and accessible for teachers, and we're really trying to increase the contact and connection between the university, public institutions like the Veterans Museum, and teachers," Suri says. "We really think this program allows us to enhance the Wisconsin Idea because we will be connecting even more deeply with people we should be connecting with around the state."

The involvement of the Wisconsin Veterans Museum in this program will be a key aspect of that approach, Suri adds. The program will include a Web component that puts original historical resources online for teachers to incorporate into their lessons, a particular benefit for rural teachers without the centralized resources of a city like Madison. The Web site will remain online past the length of the grant and will be available to all teachers, even those not participating in the program.

Richard Zeitlin, director of the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, says the museum will provide the program with historical artifacts, manuscripts, photographs and, most importantly, the testimony of Wisconsin veterans from the past and present. The museum has an extensive collection of oral histories from soldiers, and veterans frequently volunteer at the museum to give tours and talk about their experiences.

"I look at involving veterans as a chance to underscore some of the points that are being made in the course of the program," Zeitlin says. "We have people who actually were there, and we can have them available either on tape or in person or both, as well as hands-on learning."

James Kurtz, a Vietnam War veteran who works with the Veterans Museum, says he appreciates the grant's efforts to expand the knowledge of state teachers by offering a balanced look at war and wartime experiences.

"I came back to Madison after my Vietnam service, and it wasn't a very pleasant place to be," he says. "I really feel it's important for the kids coming up and the people who are teaching them to understand both sides of the story."

Beyond understanding the issue of war from all sides, Pollack adds that providing documents, artifacts and soldiers' testimonies will ultimately allow students and teachers to better understand not just the facts of history, but the discipline itself and how history is studied.

"The students who come through history classes using this approach are going to be better equipped for college certainly, but even if they don't go to college or they don't go right away, they have a better understanding of how history actually operates," Pollack says. "History is not a mysterious set of absolutes that's beyond them — history instead becomes accessible and something that people in their daily lives can put to use."

This remarkable partnership had humble beginnings at a 2007 Fourth of July picnic at a park in west Madison.

The holiday brought Pollack together with UW-Madison's Bill Tishler, a media specialist in the Division of Continuing Studies. Each had recently been involved in applying for a federal Teaching American History grant with their respective institutions, but for various reasons, neither group received one that year.

As they continued to talk about the different challenges that each group faced, the two realized that they might have better luck earning the grant working together rather than apart.

"I was talking to him for like an hour. Our wives and our families were kind of circling around us, going 'OK, come on, let's go', and we were like, 'Wait a minute.' It was all this shop talk on the Fourth of July," Pollack says. The result was a grant proposal that built on the strengths of both institutions.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

(History 434) American Foreign Relations: The History of U.S. Grand Strategy since 1901

NEW ON-LINE COURSE (June 15 - August 7, 2009)
Title: (History 434) American Foreign Relations: The History of U.S. Grand Strategy since 1901

This innovative eight-week course, taught by Professor Suri, examines how grand strategy shaped America's interaction with states, peoples and cultures throughout the 20th century, offering a fresh perspective on America's foreign policy successes and failures. The course is offered online as a pilot to military, business and other adult students. The course will define “foreign relations” broadly to explore the ways in which interactions with peoples and places identified as “foreign” transformed the nature of American society. The course will touch on issues of national power, territorial acquisition, market penetration, warfare, racial subjugation, class conflict, and gender subordination. We will study how America's foreign relations helped determine what it means to be “American.” Situating the history of the United States in an international context we will learn how American debates about identity and power reflected and influenced events in distant venues.