When Dr. Michael Turner teaches courses in British and international history, one of his top priorities is sparking curiosity among students.
Once they’re curious, “they will put the time and the effort in to read stuff, to think about it and to be prepared to talk about it,” he said. “That’s magical. The students like to talk. They like to argue with each other and challenge each other and even challenge the instructor.”
Turner, an Oxford-educated historian who’s written 11 books, joined Appalachian’s Department of History in 2008 as the Roy Carroll Distinguished Professor of British History.
He completed postgraduate work at the University of Rochester and taught at several universities in his native Great Britain.
Recently, Turner helped stimulate the curiosity of Appalachian students when they prepared special presentations on topics that aren’t taught in history but perhaps should be. When the students asked faculty for ideas, Turner suggested that they read a book that explored the American Revolution from the British point of view. This was a subject that many students hadn’t thought about, having seen the American Revolution through the eyes of American patriots. They found it “amazingly interesting,” Turner said.
Turner’s scholarship epitomizes the kind of curiosity he likes to see in his students. His most recent book, “Liberty and Liberticide: The Role of America in Nineteenth-Century British Radicalism” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2013), focuses “on the influence America exerted over the ideas and activities of nineteenth-century British radicals,” Turner says on his website. “While some looked on America as the model of liberty, others associated it with the destruction of liberty.”