Hope Holmberg, For The Miami Student

History buffs who also love Miami University are in luck.

During the fall 2011 semester, a class focusing on the history of Miami will be offered to students through both the American studies and history departments, according to Charlotte Goldy, history department chair.

The course was initially implemented by Phillip Shriver and later taught by Curt Ellison. It is making its return after a two-year absence in the course catalogue as History 241.

Helen Diana Sheumaker, an American studies professor, will be teaching the course. Since students have been disappointed about the absence of the course, Goldy is enthusiastic about its return.

“That course was really popular when Ellison was teaching it,” she said. Sheumaker will be putting an emphasis on her specialty, public history, in the class curriculum.

“This was a natural fit because it taps into what I teach and what I do,” she said. An emphasis will be put on hands-on, collaborative work, she said.

“We are thrilled that she’s going to be teaching,” Goldy said.

When Shriver taught the class, it was a one-credit hour course that was taught at the 100 level, Goldy said. Ellison revised it to be an upper-level, three-credit course.

Goldy said since it was a popular class, the change was important.

“It was an important aspect of keeping it on the books,” she said. “(Shriver) taught it for about 17 years and then he stopped teaching it in about 1997 and two years after that I began teaching it in the history department.”

Ellison is currently the director of the Colligan History Project at the Miami Hamilton campus.

Ellison said his class entailed mainly student presentations and guest lectures in addition to lectures made by him.

Ellison said he enjoyed the time he spent teaching the class. Mainly juniors and seniors who wanted to learn more about the campus because of the time they had enjoyed at Miami and the personal growth they had experienced chose to take the class, he said.

“As a historian, I think it’s important to be aware of how decisions made in the past develop a framework that provides conditions for what one can do in the present,” Ellison said. Sheumaker said the class will be using the university’s archives and digitalized records for hands-on research.

“It (the class) will cover the history of Miami University, but also in more thematic ways, looking at Miami University in terms of race, class, gender, as well as sort of focusing on things like sports and the teaching of science on campus,” she said.

Sheumaker, who referred to Ellison and Shriver as “two really gifted scholars,” is enthusiastic about carrying on the legacy of the course. Sheumaker said students will research topics they find interesting and want to learn more about.

“A historical approach to the history of the place you live is an interesting prospective to have,” Goldy said. In addition to fulfilling both American studies and history requirements, the class will be open to all students as an elective.

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