In an effort to engage students with the past, Dr. Arthurs has been actively developing courses that take a thematic approach to history. He believes that courses should allow students to think about history in a broader sense.
Dr. Arthurs’ creative approach to historical course development led to his selection as an Honors Fellow for next school year. His course proposal for “The History of Now” was selected from a competitive pool of course proposals to become an honors foundation course for next year being offered as the “Human Inquiry into the Past” requirement.
“The History of Now” will ask students to trace the historical roots of current problems, drawing on original research and the latest scholarship in the field.
“I started from the premise that people need to be convinced of the value of history,” he said. “A great way to do that is to grab headlines and look at them from a historical perspective.” Hopefully once students are convinced of the value of history, they will see the value of history regardless of contemporary focus.
The course will ask questions such as: What can the history of industrialization tell us about climate change? How did colonialism and the Cold War shape today’s conflicts in the Middle East? What can past episodes of mass migration help us understand about the refugee crisis and its impact on societies? What are the roots of contemporary populism and the crisis of liberal democracy?
Dr. Arthurs will design the course to be dynamic and responsive in order to accommodate headlines that arise throughout the course of the semester. The course will also allow space for students to pursue topics that interest them for special projects. They will blog about their selected topic or conduct a community engagement project.
As an aspect of being a faculty fellow, Dr. Arthurs will also participate in faculty development opportunities offered to all the fellows and be invited to give a public lecture next fall. “History of Now” will be offered both Fall 2017 and Spring 2018.
This semester, Dr Arthurs is teaching HIST 393I: History of Soccer and the Modern World. The course uses soccer as an avenue into history by tracing soccer through the modern world. Students explore the role soccer played in events such as British imperialism, globalization, fascist empires, and the 21st century.
Dr. Arthurs said, "There is no other human activity that brings people together like soccer."
Guest speakers joined class sessions throughout the semester in order to add additional interdisciplinary perspectives to the past. Speakers include coaches of WVU soccer: Marlon LeBlanc, head coach of the WVU men’s team, and Nikki Izzo-Brown, head women’s coach that led the WVU team to be runner-up national champions. Students had the opportunity to ask the guest expert questions on their experience and knowledge on the game.
This course, like “History of Now,” also features a digital component in which students can choose topics that interest them and create a website. This will allow them to think creatively about how to display historical materials as well as make this work available to the public.