Historical Associations Issue Recommendations About Rewarding Public History Work for Promotion and Tenure

“Tenure, Promotion, and the Publicly Engaged Academic Historian,” a report offering best practices for evaluating public history scholarship in history departments, was adopted by the Organization of American Historians (OAH) Executive Board on April 8, the National Council on Public History (NCPH) Board of Directors on June 3, and the American Historical Association (AHA) Council on June 5, 2010.

The report contends that public history work is generally overlooked in a “tenure process that emphasizes single-authored monographs and articles at the expense of other types of scholarly productions.” Despite increasing interest in public history, public scholarship, and other forms of civic engagement in colleges and universities, current standards for evaluating historical scholarship employed by history departments and dean’s offices “do not reflect the great variety of historical practice undertaken by faculty members.” Even departments that hire faculty specifically to teach public history often neglect to reward those historians for carrying out the range of public history activities required in their jobs.

The report provides clear advice for college and university administrators, department chairs, and faculty. It begins with an overview of existing promotion and tenure standards, analyzes the growing interest of college and university administrators in community engagement, and suggests how public history work should be evaluated as scholarship, teaching, and service. The committee that conducted this study hopes it will have ramifications beyond academia, perhaps in organizations, such as federal or state agencies, where the work of public historians is evaluated in promotion decisions.

For more information, please read the full report and a supporting white paper.