A common thread runs through the work of Onion, Balogh, and Rosenwald, as Jason Steinhauer, director of the Lepage Center for History in the Public Interest at Villanova University, sees it. They all have journalistic skill sets, he says, which largely go untaught in collegiate history programs. While useful to seasoned historians, Steinhauer believes these skills are especially crucial for younger ones, who face audiences that may be distrustful of journalists and academics alike. “Historians of the future are going to need to be charismatic personalities,” he says. “They are going to have to be fluent with different forms of technology, and they must be able to communicate their scholarship through non-traditional platforms.”
To this end, Steinhauer and colleagues across the country have developed what they call “history communication,” a new sub-field in history that teaches students how to create podcasts, write video scripts, and compose articles for general audiences, in addition to traditional methodology like historiography, archival research, and writing for peer-reviewed journals. The University of Massachusetts Amherst has already run a successful pilot course, and another is in the works at Purdue University. Through these courses, Steinhauer hopes to create a new class of history communicators that is trained from the ground up to combat the exact sort of bad history now dominating governmental discourse and being amplified online.