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Our Innovative Teaching

Our small classes and dedicated faculty allow us to use innovative techniques inside and outside the classroom that help students build analytical, critical and interdisciplinary skills.
  • Critical Thinking

  • Critical thinking skills, which include skills of analysis, interpretation, explanation, and evaluation, are widely considered to be crucial to a person's successful career.  History is arguably one of the best disciplines to develop those skills.  In addition to gaining historical knowledge, students of history learn how to search for primary and secondary sources, analyze and interpret them, and then draw their own conclusions.  Almost every history course offered at Huron includes a tutorial session where students analyze, interpret, explain, and evaluation either primary and/or secondary sources.  In the case of History 2603E, "China: Traditions and Transformation," all the tutorial readings are primary sources selected from various historical periods of China and translated into English.  The students taking the course are required not only to analyze the sources in the tutorials, but also to use them in their writing of the two term papers.
  • Persuasive Writing

  • The History Department’s programs and classes place a strong emphasis on teaching students to write persuasively. Professors provide students with direct written and oral instruction on a variety of written assignments and give extensive feedback on their work to encourage students to hone their writing skills. The Department focuses on the craft of developing a strong thesis and teaches its students how to decipher the available evidence and organize their arguments effectively. Students learn, in short, how to convince their readers of their interpretations of the past – a skill that translates well into a variety of fields and professions as students look towards their post-graduation careers.
  • Experiential Learning

  • History at Huron focuses on creating active learning environments for our students. Our classes work to bridge in-class learning with hands-on experiences by engaging with primary documents, historic sites, and museums. Some local historic sites our classes visit include the Museum of Ontario Archaeology, Banting House, or the Royal Canadian Regiment Museum. Other courses involve more extensive field trips to places like the Osborne Collection of Rare Children’s’ Books at the Toronto Public Library, Oberlin College in Ohio, or the Ford Museum in Michigan. Through these visits, students see first-hand the processes through which history is archived and interpreted. Research-learning is another important component of our program, in which students conceive and undertake their own research project based on historical materials. In all our courses, we work to connect our students with key documents and artifacts that teach us about the subject being studied. Building on our faculty’s diverse interests, students have the opportunity to interact directly with museum and archival collections as well as the scholarly networks in which our faculty are embedded.
  • Public History

  • Public history is how history is practiced outside the academic sphere; it can include things as diverse as deciding what historical figures to put on Canadian currency, to funding for national historical sites, to exhibits in local museums. In our classes and as a department, we engage with public history by collaborating with local history groups, museum and archives, and publicizing our work via community events, websites and social media. Engaging with public history helps students understand that history is an ongoing conversation, and encourages them to be a part of it.

    Our work with public history also helps students build professional skills such as creating exhibits, organizing events and working with digital media, building professional relationships and working as a team, project and time management, and understanding the intersections of theory and practice.

  • MacNaughton Prize

  • The John and Gail MacNaughton Prize for Excellence in Teaching serves to encourage pedagogical innovation and reflection on, and sharing of, the scholarship of teaching and learning at Huron.

    History Department Faculty have won the prize two years in a row. In 2014, Nina Reid-Maroney’s project on Community-based Research Learning in the US survey course supported three History undergraduate research assistantships.  The research team evaluated current scholarship on community-based learning and public humanities, and examined the links between student community-based research and complex course learning objectives, such as the fostering of a critical historical imagination. The project results are published on the 2014 MacNaughton Prize website, which includes an edited collection of student reflection papers.

    In 2015, Tom Peace and Amy Bell won the award for their collaborative research project assessing how students engage with research-learning as a way to understand North America's nineteenth-century colonial history. Students will create a curated exhibit using indigenous language religious texts in Huron’s Rare Books Collection, and reflect on the process of research-learning. The outcomes of the pedagogical and historical research are relevant to both of Huron’s faculties, show how innovative teaching strategies can benefit students at Huron, and address important questions about Canada’s missionary past in a post-colonial world.
  • Liberated Arts

  • History faculty, and Huron as an institution, believe avidly in the importance of undergraduate research and student participation in the wider academic community.  We engage in research collaborations with our students through Community-Based Learning, through individual research projects and through Huron’s open-access undergraduate research journal, Liberated Arts. Liberated Arts publishes radical and original student research on a variety of topics, is interdisciplinary in scope and perspective, and is founded on the academic collaboration between students, faculty, and staff.