History is essential to the creative economy and teaches students skills of critical thinking and analysis much sought by employers
On 9 September, the School of History, UCC held a symposium on Applied History that involved the speakers with experience in the areas of heritage, education, career guidance, outreach, business and diplomacy. In a rapidly changing world of employment where traditional career pathways for history graduates are becoming increasingly more difficult, history educators are faced with challenges of providing knowledge while equipping the students with important transferable skills.
As stressed by Dr Edel Bhreathnach, CEO, Discovery Programme in her keynote address delivered at the symposium, change and adaptation of new teaching and assessment methods should not be to the detriment of scholarship. A leading medievalist Irish scholar, with academic and diplomatic experiences, she emphasised the need for historians to explore new ways of teaching and assessment of the subject that reflect that changing reality of employment and career paths for history graduates. She encouraged educators to be more adventurous and creative in their teaching. Such changes can be challenging as they require collaboration between colleagues, disciplines and institutions, but the benefits for teaching of the discipline are tremendous, as students gain not only knowledge but also skills.
Other speakers at the symposium, Dr Danielle O’Donovan, Bridge 21, Trinity College Dublin and Mary McCarthy,Careers Advisor, UCC, stressed the role of assessment methods that test and improve students’ critical thinking, critical analysis, communication skills and team-work, attributes much valued by employers. The need and value of internships was stressed by Dr Finola Doyle-O'Neill and KatherineMcGarry, School of History.Brian Donovan, Director, CEO, Eneclann represented a private sector where historians with entrepreneurship abilities can create employment and become employers. The message was reiterated by Dr Niamh NicGhabhann, Course Director, MA in Festive Arts Programme, University of Limerick, who stressed the still much-underexplored possibilities by history graduates in the tourism sector. Dr Eamonn McEneaney, Director of Waterford Treasures Museum and Virginia Teehan, Cultural Programmes and Research Support, UCC, stressed that historians need to share their passion and knowledge with wider audiences, they need to be ethical in their judgment, and creative and imaginative in their thinking. The event was funded by the UCC School of History and organised by Dr Małgorzata Krasnodębska-D’Aughton. Important contributions to the discussion were made by Prof. David Ryan, Head of School, Prof. Geoffrey Roberts, former Head of School, Dr Diarmuid Scully, Dr Vincent O'Connell of University of Limerick and Dermot Lucey of Cork History Teachers' Association.
The symposium provided new and refreshing ways of looking at how we teach history and how essential history is to the creative economy with an important message that Ireland has the potential to lead the world in technology-enhanced experiences of history and heritage.