The Butcher History Institute, co-chaired by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Walter A. McDougall and FPRI Senior Fellow David Eisenhower, aims to contribute to the more effective teaching of history and to the public discourse over America’s identity and its role in the world. Each year the Butcher History Institute sponsors two or three weekend-long history institutes for high school teachers and junior college faculty. Teachers from all over the country have attended the weekends, including many leaders of statewide history and social studies councils.
Teaching the Teachers
In the mid 1990s, many Americans perceived foreign affairs with a certain complacency, if they paid any attention at all. The end of the Cold War, victory in the first Gulf War, and globalization seemed to suggest that liberal democracy and the market economy were spreading across the world in a dialectical march toward what Francis Fukuyama called the end of history.
We at FPRI were skeptical that world crises were ending, so we never ceased to bring the best scholarship to bear on the challenges we thought likely to confront U.S. foreign policy in the 21st century. Even then, we also pursued its second, educational mission, to help American youth better understand the other cultures and nations with whom we all must coexist. The goal of these history institutes is to assemble the best scholars and secondary school teachers for an intensive, non-partisan discussion of important and controversial subjects. The institutes have over the years grown bigger and better, to the point where now we’re able to stage them not just in Philadelphia but around the country.
-- Walter A. McDougall, Co-chair, Butcher History Institute
In 2012, we named FPRI’s History Institute for Teachers in honor of Madeleine and W.W. Keen Butcher. The Butcher Family provided a generous gift toward the long-term sustainibility of the program, Keen is our longest serving trustee (dating back to 1968), and Madeleine played a key role in introducing new friends to FPRI. Through a series of weekend-long conferences for high school teachers, the Butcher History Institute “teaches the teachers” by advancing their knowledge of world affairs, aiding them in incorporating this knowledge in the classroom, and by encouraging them to converse with scholars, writers and other leaders. Since 1996, these History Institutes have garnered a national reputation for excellence and have worked with teachers from 681 high schools in 46 states.
Its work is focused in four core areas:
The Center reaches teachers and classrooms across the nation through Footnotes, its bulletin for educators, which are frequently reprinted in American Educator and other education journals and posted at other websites; through webcasts for high school classrooms; through the books it produces with Mason Crest, and through its History Institutes for Teachers. FPRI essays are often posted by ERIC, the Education Resources Information Center, sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) of the U.S. Department of Education.
Walter McDougall and David Eisenhower co-chair the Center’s History Institutes for Teachers. These history institutes have received generous funding from the Annenberg Foundation, The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, H.F. Lenfest, I. Wistar Morris, III, W.W. Kean Butcher, Bruce Hooper, and the Stuart Family Foundation, and in-kind support from the Cantigny First Division Foundation, a division of the McCormick Foundation.
Each weekend-long program provides some 40 educators from around the country the opportunity to learn directly from the top scholars in their fields on subjects teachers are often under-prepared to teach. Many more teachers access the videotapes, reports, classroom lessons, and other materials posted at our website.