Welcome to Public History @ UCF, your portal to news and information about the many publicly engaged, digitally enabled research, teaching, and learning activities sponsored by UCF’s Department of History.

Those who are new to this fast-growing field may be wondering: What is Public History? To borrow an oft-cited definition from the National Council on Public History, “public history describes the many and diverse ways in which history is put to work in the world. In this sense, it is history that is applied to real-world issues. . . .  (Source: “What is Public History?/About the Field,” NCPH website, accessed April 7, 2020)

For us, Public History means engaging ourselves and our communities in critical thinking about why history matters. Please take a minute to browse our Public History Partnerships & Initiatives page and learn about the cutting-edge work our students, faculty, and community partners are doing together.

Thank you for visiting our new Public History @ UCF page, and please return often for updates!

Dr. Scot A. French
Director of Public History
Associate Professor of Digital & Public History
Associate Director, Center for Humanities and Digital Research


Public History takes many forms as a both an academic specialization and a holistic program of community engaged research partnerships at UCF:.

  • Faculty-Led, Community-Engaged Class Projects. Public History faculty routinely incorporate community-engaged projects into their course syllabi. Students receive training in a range of research methods such as (depending on the class/instructor) oral history, podcasting, digital archiving, exhibit curation, historic preservation, and laser-scanning. A full list of faculty-directed Public History projects, many with class project tie-ins, can be found here.
  • Professionalization/Training/Career Advising. Undergraduates enrolled in upper-level professionalization courses — HIS 3600 Professionalizing History Majors and HIS 4150 History and Historians —  are introduced to Public History as a potential career path, with guest speakers from a range of fields (Historic Preservation, Planning, Law, etc). Other courses — HIS 3090 Introduction to Historic Preservation, ASH 3930 Digital Storytelling, and HIS 3081 History Museums and Digital Spaces– immerse students in more Public History theory and practice.
  • Internships/Community Partnerships. Partnerships with community organizations, businesses, non-profits, and local governments give UCF students the opportunity to make lasting connections and gain real-world experience. Students can choose from a wide range of internship opportunities, organized around specialized skills training and potential career paths: digital archiving, museum administration, historic preservation and restoration, exhibit curation, museum education, podcasting, journal editing, oral history, etc.
  • Public History Track – M.A. Degree Program. Students who enroll in the M.A. History degree program have the option of choosing the Public History track with an eye toward specialized training for careers within and beyond the academy. Graduate course offerings in Public History include:
    • AMH 6346 – Seminar in the History of American Automobility
    • AMH 6429 – Seminar in Community and Local History
    • AMH 6592 – Seminar in Oral History
    • HIS 5083 – Cultural Heritage Management
    • HIS 5095 – Readings in Historic Preservation
    • HIS 5925 – History in the Digital Age
    • HIS 6068 – Seminar in Documentary Editing and New Media
    • HIS 6096 – Seminar in Historic Preservation
    • HIS 6165 – Digital Tools for Historians
    • HIS 5088 – Readings in Curation and Public History
    • HIS 6094 – Seminar in Curation and New Media
    • HIS 6167 – Spatial History
    • HIS 6942 – Internship
View Catalog
M.A. students may write a traditional thesis on a Public History topic or combine the written thesis with a public-facing, community-partnered project, such as a museum installation or an interactive digital history visualization. Several recent graduates of the Public History track who created digital projects as interactive components of their theses have been honored with the College of Arts & Humanities Outstanding M.A. Thesis Award. They include

Students who are not enrolled in the Public History track are welcome to take Public History classes and activities and are strongly encouraged to participate in the many Public History internship opportunities available to them.

Our “holistic curriculum” is cited by students as one its strengths. All students take a course in Historiography and learn about historical methods while simultaneously taking Public History courses in which they learn and apply theory in both the digital and analog realms. By integrating Public History theory with practical skills, the program trains students for public history careers of the future.


Want to know more? Email the Director of Public History, Dr. Scot French