Cross-posted from University of Exeter College of Humanities Research News
An online course run by leading historians at the University of Exeter has received a commendation from the Royal Historical Society (RHS) for excellence in the field of public history.
The course, Empire: The Controversies of British Imperialism has been officially commended by the RHS as part of the Public History Prize; the first national prize for public history in the UK.
The commendation, given in the web and digital category, recognises the work being undertaken within the University’s Department of History to engage people with the past in innovative ways using a wide variety of resources to entice new audiences to history in all its forms.
Professor Richard Toye is a lead educator on the course and an expert in Imperial Britain from the late nineteenth century to the present day. Professor Toye said: “It is fantastic for the course to be recognised in this way by the RHS and this is a great way to raise the profile of this fast-growing field of study.
“The aim of the British Empire course is to really open up imperial history for everyone, making the subject accessible for all and keeping us in touch with our past. The course is open to anyone with an interest in history and does not require any previous experience of studying the subject. Along the way there is lots of opportunity for people to debate the questions they have raised and draw their own conclusions.”
The online course involves interactive online participation and will focus on attitudes of the British public towards the Empire; attitudes which were pivotal in its development and demise.
Participants on the six week course are guided through their study by experts from the University’s Centre for Imperial and Global History who make up one of the largest groups of imperial and global historians currently working in the UK.
Peter Mandler, President of the Royal Historical Society said: “We live in something like a golden age of public history – a time when academics and other specialists work closely with journalists and the media and vice-versa to satisfy public interest in and raise public understanding of historical questions. The Royal Historical Society wants to recognize creativity and excellence in this booming field: to show that the public doesn’t need to choose between edification and entertainment, between expertise and accessibility, between style and substance. We hope these prizes will draw further attention to the most impressive combinations of high-quality research and high-quality presentation”.
The Public History Prize judging panel comprised lead historians including Professor Mary Beard (Cambridge), Dr. Alix Green (Hertfordshire), Professor Aled Jones (National Library of Wales), Professor John Tosh (Roehampton) and Professor Ludmilla Jordanova (Durham and Chair). The judges selected overall winners in the categories of film, broadcasting, museums and exhibitions, and website projects.
The commendation was presented to Professor Toye by Professor Amanda Vickery (Queen Mary, University of London) at an awards ceremony in London on Friday 27 November.