The public history students of Dr. Andrea Burns can take advantage of several benefits that will help them land and/or thrive in jobs, not only in museums and historic preservation societies but also in corporations, the U.S. military and Congress.
One benefit is Burns’ scholarship. She and several colleagues across the country recently began exploring the genesis of public history in the 19th century with the aim of illuminating its connections to social justice and civil rights issues.
She wrote “From Storefront to Monument: Tracing the Public History of the Black Museum Movement”(University of Massachusetts Press, 2013), which won the National Council on Public History Book Award in 2015. The book “informed how I taught students about what museums do and the power they have with regard to interpreting,” Burns said. “It also showed how audiences react to museums that don’t tell their stories.”
Burns’ alma mater is Michigan State University, where her classes had as many as 200 people, particularly in her freshman and sophomore years. At Appalachian, by contrast, a public history class usually has no more than 25 students.
“By the middle of a semester, I know everyone and what their needs are,” she said. “That’s going to help if they need assistance securing an internship or advice about their careers.”
Burns spoke of many Appalachian alumni who work at museums across North Carolina. “We try to keep those networks going” to help students land internships, many of which lead to jobs. Interns learn practical skills and they document what they’ve done for prospective employers in papers and blogs.
Dr. Andrea Burns is the author of “From Storefront to Monument: Tracing the Public History of the Black Museum Movement,” which won the National Council on Public History Book Award in 2015.