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June 22, 2021 at 4:18 pm

Schoen will help elevate humanities in new Ping Institute professorship

Dr. Brian Schoen, portrait

Dr. Brian Schoen

From Ohio University News

Dr. Brian Schoen brings his expertise in teaching the humanities and connecting with the community to his new role as the James Richard Hamilton/Baker and Hostetler Professor of the Charles J. Ping Institute for Teaching of the Humanities.

The Ohio University Board of Trustees made the appointment at its June 18 meeting.

“The Ping Institute’s mission has never been more important than in this time of remarkable technological change, fractured politics, and a heightened social awareness of present challenges and past injustices. We need organizations and initiatives capable of furthering our shared humanity even as we recognize and celebrate our differences. I am looking forward to working with the other Ping faculty and fellows to serve our community,” said Schoen, associate professor and chair of History at OHIO.

The Ping Institute develops initiatives to support the teaching of the humanities both at the University and in the region. It promotes the humanities as essential disciplines for learning about human society and culture, for understanding complex ideas and the human experience, for developing skills of analysis and civil debate, for appreciating diversity and different perspectives, and for instilling leadership, critical thought, and effective communication.

As part of its outreach to high school humanities teachers in the state of Ohio, the Ping Institute recently developed several new initiatives that tie the humanities to current events:

The Ping Institute was established by the Board of Trustees in 1992 and is funded by an endowment established by friends of the University, University trustees, and Ohio University Foundation trustees, who together more than matched a three-to-one challenge grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The institute has three named distinguished teaching professorships, and Schoen joins Dr. Fred Drogula, the Charles J. Ping Professor of Humanities and Professor of Classics, and Dr. Linda Rice, the James S. Reid/Standard Products Company Professor of Humanities and Professor of English, in the running of the institute and its activities. Schoen succeeds Dr. William F. Condee, professor of Interdisciplinary Arts, who retired from OHIO in December 2020.

Supporting High School Teachers

“The Ping Institute was honored to receive applications from a truly extraordinary list of outstanding OHIO faculty. Within that group, Professor Schoen stood out as bringing the particular experience and set of skills the institute needs to advance its mission of supporting the teaching of the humanities,” Drogula said.

“In addition to his work developing initiatives at the University, he will help us better connect with social science teachers in secondary schools throughout Ohio, will expand our efforts to promote the humanities in the region, and will help us explore new possibilities with the digital humanities. We are delighted to have Professor Schoen join us in working to promote and support the humanities at the University, in the regional community, and in Ohio.”

“I am honored, humbled, and excited to be named to this position, made possible by the vision of President Ping, previous institute leadership, and donors who recognized humanities’ central contribution to higher education and society,” Schoen said.

Schoen came to Ohio University in 2006 and was tenured with the rank of associate professor in 2011. In his department he has served as the director of undergraduate studies, director of the online Master of Social Sciences, assistant department chair, and now department chair. He has also held a wide range of college-wide and university-wide positions.

A scholar of 19th-century United States history, Schoen’s first book, The Fragile Fabric of Union: Cotton, Federal Politics and the Global Origins of the Civil War won the 2010 Southern Historical Association’s Bennett H. Wall book award for the best book in southern business and economic history over a two-year period.  He has many articles and book chapters to his credit, including most recently an article in American Political Thought and The Cambridge History of the American Civil War. He has co-edited two collections and is completing two more and a second single-authored monograph on the secession crisis.

Promoting Digital Humanities

“The most important factor for this search is Brian’s many accomplishments as a teacher, since the advancement of good teaching is the primary goal of the Institute,” Drogula notes. “Brian’s accomplishments in teaching are many and impressive.”

He teaches a wide range of classes including survey courses in United States history and Capitalism and its Critics: An Intellectual History as well as upper-division courses on the Early Republic, Civil War, and American South and Slavery.

He was recognized for excellent teaching by his department chair and his dean in 2010, received the Dean’s Outstanding Faculty Undergraduate Advising Award in 2013, was a finalist of the University Professor Award in Teaching for 2019- 2020, and won a Jeanette G. Grasselli Brown Outstanding Teaching Award in 2019-20.

Schoen also has been involved in teaching initiatives at OHIO, including Think History 2, a partner program with the Perry Hocking Education Service Center, the Ohio History Connection, and the University. Here and in his previous job at California State University, Sacramento, he has delivered approximately 36 content talks for K-12 social studies teachers to help them develop their knowledge and skills. He is also currently co-leading a university faculty learning community in an effort to develop understanding and use of the digital humanities.

“Digital humanities are an important part of the future of teaching the humanities, and a field the Ping Institute is very interested in supporting, so we see Brian as a particularly valuable resource who brings specific knowledge and experience that we want,” Drogula added.

“Schoen also works closely with several Ohio groups that promote excellence in high school teaching, which will make him a tremendous asset to the Ping Institute, since supporting Ohio high school teachers is one of our primary goals,” Drogula said.

In addition to working with the Ohio History Connection, Schoen also worked with the Southeast Ohio History Center, Dr. Nancy Stevens and the Museum Complex to create the Black History of Athens Tour, and he is a member of the local Civil War Roundtable and a regular speaker at other civic organizations such as the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution, O’Bleness Hospital Senior Bears, and local and state historical societies. Schoen also initiated and co-organized with Dr. Tim Anderson last spring’s Ohio Settlement Conference, collaborating with WOUB, the Southeast Ohio Settlement Conference, and multiple campus partners.

“The Ping Institute is developing several new teaching initiatives that will need external grants to provide financial support. The committee recognized that Brian has excellent experience in this endeavor. The Think History program was the result of a $1 million U.S. Department of Education grant, and his work with the Ohio Historical Society resulted in two National Endowment for the Humanities Landmarks of American History and Culture grants, one for community college faculty and one for teachers. He has also received grants from the Central Region Humanities Center, the 1804 Fund, the Baker Fund, a NEH summer research fellowship, and a Fulbright award. With this experience, we have no doubt that Brian can help the Ping Institute win important grants that will support new initiatives to champion the teaching of the Humanities at the university, in our community, and among Ohio high school teachers,” Drogula said.

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