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Sessions of Value at the American Historical Association Even If You Can Not Attend: Civics

The annual conference of the American Historical Association will be held January 3-6, 2019, in Chicago. I will not be attending the conference. I have reviewed the program book and there are many sessions which are of value to history organizations, municipal historians, and educators. Below are the abstracts of these sessions. If someone is attending the conference and would like to report on them to the history community, that would be appreciated.

This post focuses on sessions related to civics. The previous one addressed education. Some of the papers presented are available on the web by clicking on them.

Historians and the Public Sphere in Turbulent Political Times

Chair: Daniel M. Bessner, University of Washington
Panel: Daniel M. Bessner, University of Washington
Patrick Iber, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Nancy MacLean, Duke University
Rebecca Onion, Slate Magazine
Alejandro Velasco, New York University

Session Abstract

Recent political developments in the U.S., including the election of Donald J. Trump to the presidency of the United States, have engendered an outburst of popular historical writing. From books that explore the connections between the contemporary United States and the Weimar Republic to essays that analyze the deep-seated origins of American racism and xenophobia, historians have entered—and been welcome into—the public sphere in ways unimaginable as recently as two years ago. This roundtable, which consists of historians of various ranks, genders, and backgrounds, will address the problems and prospects of professional historians writing for a broader public in a moment of profound transformation and anxiety.

While historians have been encouraged to fight for the influence of our ideas in the public sphere, the conditions now making that possible seem fraught with potential problems. Trump, after all, campaigned on a platform that derided expertise, and described reported facts as “fake news.” How do professional historians cope with an environment in which many of their arguments raise present-day political concerns? Is there a risk of normal professional work being branded as a partisan activity—as something akin to “fake history”? At the same time, social media platforms make possible the wider dissemination of our work and allow us to interact with readers almost immediately. But they can also create the possibility of writing for popularity rather than complexity, or they bring with them the risks of abuse and harassment.

This roundtable will discuss the manifold public roles professional historians may play in the present moment. Questions we seek to address include: How do we balance roles as writers, activists, and pundits? How can we write effectively for a larger audience? How can historians bridge the gap between the academy and the public? To what ends should they do so? Can historians and the public learn from each other? How can we respond when we become the center of a public firestorm? And, perhaps most importantly, how should we think about professional obligations and responsibilities in these unsettled times? By examining these questions in depth at the American Historical Association’s annual meeting, we hope to begin a conversation that will reverberate not only throughout the seminar halls of the university, but in the public sphere as well.

Loyal to Their Own Cause: African American Public Memory, Commemoration, and Contestation

Chair: W. Fitzhugh Brundage, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Papers: Who Are the Real Americans? African American Civil War Memory and Narratives of Loyalty Ashleigh Lawrence-Sanders, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

“Legacies of Triumph”: African American Women’s Memorialization in Public History Sites
Alexandria Russell, University of South Carolina

“Belles Who Were There . . . 1960 Sit-Ins”: The Gendered Narratives and Commemoration of the Greensboro Sit-Ins Jasmin C. Howard, Michigan State University

This Costume Called My Skin: Black Historic Site Interpreters on the Front Lines of Public Memory Elon Cook Lee, Rhode Island School of Design

Comment: The Audience

Session Abstract

Loyal to their own Cause: African American Public Memory, Commemoration and Contestation is an exploration of how African Americans have been publicly memorialized in the contested physical landscape of the United States thereby critically engaging memorialization in both the North and South. The controversies surrounding the removal of Confederate statues in Charlottesville, Durham, Baltimore and various other southern locales last year has sparked conversations about how legacies are commemorated in contested spaces and thereby represent contested loyalties. Historically the South has been situated as a terrain fraught with racial violence and trauma where contestation associated with race has often led to blood shed. Contrastingly, the South is simultaneously situated as a homeland and a place of comfort. Engaging the South as a site of both collective pleasure and pain for African Americans, panelists seek to further examine the troubling of dominant and often limited southern narratives about African Americans throughout history. Relatedly, panelists seek to transgress narratives that frame the South as the predominant space for scholarship on early African American History by exploring the North as well as a contested space. Prior to the twentieth century Great Migration to the North, the North was a space of dynamic and complex African American life. Further, the lives of enslaved and free African Americans in the North during enslavement deserves further study. The history of African American life in the North during and after enslavement was also a site of pain and pleasure which is exemplified by the violence of Northern slavery and twentieth century urban race riots coupled with the opportunities that the North presented for African Americans fleeing the South during enslavement and Jim Crow.

Understanding the distinct contours of how African Americans have been memorialized highlights the intersection of race, gender, class, and space in public history. Panelists will examine the trajectory of African American commemorations from the seventeenth century to the modern-day, through their discussion of the roles of enslaved men and women in the North through an examination of current public historical interpretation in New England, freedmen and freedwomen as memory crafters of the Civil War, the commemoration of African American student activism at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and African American women’s memorialization in the 1970s. In short, this panel seeks to make three notable interventions. We seek to showcase efforts by Black southerners to commemorate their past and contest White southern public memory because White Southern nostalgia or the lost cause is but one type of loyalty. African Americans are also committed to their own narratives and memory. Secondly, we seek to examine African American commemoration as a gendered process. Lastly, we seek to examine both commemoration in the North and South in order to produce rich scholarship and public history that is more reflective of true African American life. Timely in nature, we assert that to understand American historical memory we must reconsider African American public history through an examination of contested memory and spaces throughout the United States.

The American Revolution in World History: A Teaching Roundtable

Chair: Thanasis Kinias, Northeastern University
Panel: Marcus Filippello, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee
Jason Herbert, University of Minnesota
Amy-Elizabeth Manlapas, The Paideia School
Serena Zabin, Carleton College

Session Abstract

This round table will address the conference theme of ‘loyalty’ through a discussion of teaching the American Revolution in world-historical context. The standard narrative of the American Revolution is familiar and seldom problematized in survey courses at the high school or undergraduate level. Placing the American colonial rebellion in its global historical context gives students access to unfamiliar perspectives: British, French, and Spanish; Native American/First Nations; African diaspora; and so on. The participants in this round table are high school teachers, doctoral students, and university faculty members. They are both Americanists and world historians, with specializations that include the British Empire, Indigenous history, British and Spanish colonial America, and Africa.

Each panelist will speak briefly about how she or he uses world-historical context to challenge students’ preconceptions about the American Revolution. The chair will then moderate a conversation among the panelists and audience about how each other’s approaches can enhance all of our teaching of the American Revolution.

This round table is sponsored by the World History Association, which is committed to facilitating discussion of world history pedagogy among teachers and academics.

Prison/Education: Historians Take on a National Debate

Chair: Robert Smith, Marquette University
Panel: Jessica Neptune, Bard Prison Initiative, Chicago
Claire Potter, The New School
Shana Russell, Rutgers University at Newark
Liz Ševčenko, Rutgers University at Newark
Heather Ann Thompson, University of Michigan

Session Abstract

What role should historians be playing in the debate about mass incarceration in the United States? This roundtable proposes that understanding the role that “prison” plays in the American social order offers multiple opportunities for engagement, critique, publicly engaged scholarship, and activism. With these opportunities also come responsibilities to different constituencies. Participants in this roundtable will speak about their engagement with one or more of the publics engaged in rethinking the role of mass incarceration in our society: our students, in and out of prison; prison authorities and employees; a public that is often divided about the utility of prison for the social order and the justice system; public funding for scholarship that encourages debate but prohibits the politicization of that debate; and a reading public that requires well researched scholarship to re-engage and re-evaluate the rise of incarceration in our society.

Roundtable participants include a best-selling popular author who engages popular audiences, media producers, incarcerated people and their families; two directors of a public history project who facilitate college students doing community-based historical research on the local impact of incarceration; a scholar who taught a college course on comparative incarcerations under the auspices of the NEH Enduring Questions program; and the Director of the Bard College in Prison Project in Chicago.

The Student as Citizen: Loyalties, Disloyalties, and the Politics of Education

Chair: Jon Hale, College of Charleston

Papers: “To Participate in Their Own Destinies”: Detroit’s Community Control Movement and the Struggle to Redefine the Black High School Student as Citizen Dara Walker, Penn State University

The Moral Politics of Divestment: South Africa, the Anti-apartheid Movement, and American Higher Education in the 1980s David Busch, Carnegie Mellon University

Learn for America? American Studies in the College Classroom, 1945–60 Mario Rewers, Vanderbilt University

Comment: Andrea L. Turpin, Baylor University

Session Abstract

In 1965, Fredrick Rudolph published a small essay titled, “The Neglect of the Student as a Historical Tradition.” As the title suggested, he lamented the lack of scholarly attention paid to students and the way they shaped ideas of education. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Rudolph wrote this piece in 1965, a year after the 1964 Free Speech Movement at the University of California, Berkeley captured national headlines. Historians since have taken up his call, especially scholars of social movements who have brought to light the ways student activists helped establish black, ethnic, and women studies on American college campuses. This panel continues in this tradition and brings together scholars who explore the relationship between students and state institutions (social, educational, political, and cultural). How did state institutions conceptualize students as citizens? What mechanisms or practices did these institutions use to realize their vision of “the student as a citizen”? How did students respond to these practices and mechanisms? And what politics and social forces did they marshal in their responses? The scholars of this panel take up these questions, among others, in their papers that explore students and politics in mid-century America.

Sessions of Value at the American Historical Association Conference

The annual conference of the American Historical Association will be held January 3-6, 2019, in Chicago. I will not be attending the conference. I have reviewed the program book and there are many sessions which are of value to history organizations, municipal historians, and educators. Below are the abstracts of these sessions. If someone is attending the conference and would like to report on them to the history community, that would be appreciated.

This post focuses on sessions related to education.

On the Front Lines of History: Educators at History Museums, Archives, and Historic Sites

Chair: Annie Polland, American Jewish Historical Society (and formerly at the Tenement Museum)
Panel: Maria Marable-Bunch, National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution
Emily Potter-Ndiaye, Mead Art Museum
K. Allison Wickens, George Washington’s Mount Vernon
Lauren Zalut, Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site
Comment: Annie Polland, American Jewish Historical Society

Session Abstract

As boundaries between public and academic history break down, there is increasing acknowledgement of the role that museums, historic sites, and archives play in teaching history to broad and diverse audiences. Yet many focus on the role of curators in shaping historical narratives, overlooking the essential role played by education staff at public history sites. According to the American Alliance of Museums, approximately 55 million students visit museums in school groups alone each year. Museum educators also shape the work of teachers and educators, the general public, scholars and content specialists, and many more.

This panel brings together experienced leaders in the field of museum education to examine the integral role that educators play in teaching historical content and the practice of history at museums, historic sites, and archives. Panelists will analyze different models of museum education in various contexts, consider the intellectual, administrative, and pedagogical challenges and opportunities that educators and administrators face daily, and propose new methods of collaboration between public history and academia.

Educators often serve as the main point of contact between an institution and many different publics – K-12 educators, K-12 and college students, general visitors, tour attendees, and others. The panel will discuss the pluses and pitfalls that arise in “translating” an institution’s exhibitions, documents, objects, and mission to diverse audiences. It will lay out different models of educator training and content oversight that leading institutions have adopted, and discuss institutions are best able to support the training of education staff. It will consider the essential role that educators play in making history accessible to underserved audiences – especially school-age children. It will analyze the key role educators play in communicating audience needs to the content specialists. It will highlight challenges that administrators at institutions of different sizes face when advocating for equitable compensation and treatment of often part-time education staff. Finally, panelists will suggest modes of partnership between public history educators and academic historians, and consider key lessons that academic historians can learn from the practices of the field of museum education.

Creating Connections: Historical Scholarship and the K-12 Classroom

Chair: Rachel B. Reinhard, University of California, Berkeley
Panel: Angela D. LeBlanc-Ernest, Tracye A. Matthews, filmmaker and independent scholar, University of Chicago
Nikki D. Mandell, University of Wisconsin–Whitewater
Don Romesburg, Sonoma State University

Session Abstract

Scholars and K-12 educators have long worked in isolation from one another. More recently, historians have sought ways to inform, through the most recent academic scholarship, the historical questions that are asked and narratives that are shared in elementary and secondary classrooms. This panel will share three distinct efforts that have 1) advocated for the expansion of topics included in state standards, 2) compiled usable resources for educators, and 3) developed curated and contextualized source sets for use in K-12 classrooms. Don Romesburg, who recently has been recognized by the AHA for his role in ensuring a fuller implementation of the FAIR Act, a California law which was passed in 2011 to incorporate LGBT history and the history of people with disabilities into K-12 US History curriculum, will discuss how scholars reviewed the existing History-Social Science Standards in California, revised them based on recent scholarship on gender and sexuality, and followed the governmental process of adoption of the state’s new History-Social Science Framework. Angela LeBlanc-Ernest and Tracye A. Matthews represent the leadership team of the Intersectional Black Panther Party History Project. These scholars of the Black Panther Party wanted to increase instruction around the role of women in the Black Panther Party. Through the creation of a website and compilation of resources, in addition to public events for educators, they have made a broad array of vetted resources available to educators across the country. Nikki Mandell has led an effort from within the Labor and Working Class History Association to increase instruction of the history of labor in K-12 classrooms. LAWCHA members have begun creating source sets that can be easily accessed by teachers to increase explicit instruction around labor history. Additionally, Mandell has convened labor historians to identify opportunities, parallel to the passage of the FAIR Act in California, in which scholars can inform and broaden instruction in the history of labor.

Collectively, these individual efforts attest to the academy’s commitment to informing meaningful history instruction in the K-12 classroom and offer models to other scholars with regard to how their research can influence broader audiences. Rachel B. Reinhard, the director of the UC Berkeley History-Social Science Project, which seeks to bridge the K-16 continuum through its location in the Department of History at UC Berkeley and their programming for K-12 teachers in the Bay Area, will chair the panel. This program would appeal to scholars who are interested in public applications for their scholarship and in developing partnerships with the K-12 community.

K-12 Educators’ Workshop: History in Your Backyard: Remembrance and Commemoration
Organized with the Library of Congress

What is the relationship between remembrance and commemoration? What roles do monuments and memorials in our communities play in both reflecting our collective past and allowing us to engage with it? This interactive workshop will begin with a keynote by Adam Rothman, Georgetown University, on research he is conducting at the Library of Congress (LOC) as a Kluge Fellow. This will be followed by a primary source analysis workshop conducted by Rothman and Lee Ann Potter and Kaleena Black of the Library’s new Center for Learning, Literacy, and Engagement, drawing on documents in a variety of media from the collections of the Library.
No charge; because space is limited, free advance registration is required.

Across the K-16 Continuum: Collaborative Conversations and Possibilities for History Education

Chair: Sarah Gold McBride, University of California, Berkeley
Panel: Daniel Diaz, University of California, Los Angeles
Whitney Snow, Midwestern State University
Robert B. Bain, University of Michigan
Angela La Torre, Mt. Diablo Unified School District

Session Abstract

This roundtable will discuss the benefits of sustained collaboration between scholars, practitioners, and teachers from K–12 and postsecondary settings. Panelists will share their experiences creating and participating in networks between educators working in different settings, and the opportunity for these partnerships to transform history education for students at all levels, including doctoral students. The conversation will include panelists’ reflections on one example of this type of partnership: the Teaching History Conference, a network of educators dedicated to engaging in collaborative conversations about teaching history across the K–16 continuum. The Conference, first held at UC Berkeley in 2015, leverages the teacher network of the California History–Social Science Project (CHSSP) and builds on the American Historical Association’s Career Diversity for Historians initiative. These partnerships create a unique opportunity for participants to foster a community of practice among history educators from a wide range of schools, colleges, and universities.

In the next post, I will present sessions related to civics.

Conference Reports: The American Historical Association

As the year draws to a close, I thought I would do a series of posts about history conferences in 2017. This series will include both conferences I attended and those I did not. Not everyone can attend every relevant national history conference yet alone the state and regional ones. Even within a conference, it often is not possible to attend every session since there are concurrent ones. It would be helpful if people who do attend history conferences would write about them for New York History Blog and share the information with those who did not attend. It might even spark some discussion if we had a viable forum for having such a discussion.

The first conference to be covered is the annual January one of The American Historical Association, the largest professional organization serving historians in all fields and all professions. So it is being written even as the January, 2018, conference is at hand. I did not attend this conference in Denver. I did review the program and here ae the sessions that caught my eye as being relevant to even those of us who did not attend. These sessions are education focused particularly for the high grades and community and 4-year colleges. The challenge of finding a job is a perennial session.

Tuning at the Two-Year Institution:  Teaching and Learning on the Front Lines of History Education

As noted in a 2012 report by the AHA, “two-year institutions are on the front lines of many debates concerning higher education.”  In this roundtable panelists raise questions about the day-to-day teaching concerns of two-year faculty.  Audience members will then offer responses and propose suggestions based on their own experiences.

Sarah Shurts will discuss ways in which history educators can make changes, even small ones, to their teaching methods and their material in order to better address the historical thinking skills, concepts, and competencies that are essential to our discipline instead of simply covering content. She will show how her community college courses and expectations for student learning are evolving due to the introduction of the Tuning process.  In particular, she will discuss how the student learning objectives in the Tuning core can be scaled to suit the particular needs of community college introductory surveys while still introducing and developing the historical thinking skills and research methods that are essential to the major.

Too often the impulse at two-year colleges is to load students with content before they can eventually engage in disciplinary thinking at a four-year institution or in graduate school.  This impulse can be especially pronounced when dealing with community college students who have varying degrees of knowledge and academic skills.  Tony Acevedo and Michele Rotunda, however, will suggest that content coverage should not trump developing the habits of mind associated with the discipline.  Analyzing evidence, engaging in debate, and answering essential questions – all part of the historian’s craft – are examples of disciplinary habits that can be implemented to strengthen the survey course.  In particular, they will discuss how community college students often bring experiences and real-world skills that can be tapped into to develop historical thinking.

Although it has been three decades since Joan Wallach Scott called for the inclusion of gender as a category of analysis in historical study, Heather Bryson argues that it remains largely absent from survey courses in community colleges.  Gender is not the only underused analytical lens in introductory history classes. In general, historiography and historical theory are not taught at the community college level.  Bryson will provide a case study for the integration of theory (gender, class, race, etc.) into surveys based on how she introduces and embeds gender theory into her modern United States history course.

In a case study, Elizabeth Bryant will voice the specific challenges that community college educators face when teaching about human rights issues, especially in an era where much of the curriculum is dictated by set educational standards.  Another issue she will discuss is how students are often ill-prepared, both educationally and emotionally, to digest such difficult material.  Finally, she will offer suggestions on how educators can offer more practical tools so that students can become involved and stop the cycle of apathy to promote tolerance and understanding within both the local and global contexts.

Job Workshop for Historians

Bring your questions about what kinds of jobs are out there, as well as about composing a good job letter, creating a convincing c.v. or résumé, pitching your experience to a variety of audiences, and whatever else is on your mind as you seek a job using your PhD in history. Workshop facilitators will provide a mixture of one-on-one and group advice. Drop in or stay for the whole time. Bring your job letters, your c.v. and résumé, along, and let us comment on them for you.

The Professional Division will recruit volunteers who represent the wide range of job possibilities for Ph.D.s in history, including research institutions, four-year colleges, community colleges, secondary schools, museums, publishing houses, historical societies, national and state parks, and the business world to engage in informal conversation about strategies for finding a position in their field. Volunteers who have participated in the past have found the experience to be both personally and professionally rewarding.

Division vice-president Philippa Levine will make some brief introductory remarks, emphasizing the range of possibilities for Ph.D.s in history. Volunteers will then introduce themselves, and job candidates will sort themselves out for discussions according to their interests.

The Changing Scale and Scope of History Education: The C3 Framework and AHA’s Tuning Project

Since 2012, the C3 Framework (College, Career, and Civic Life Framework for Social Studies State Standards) [NOTE – NYS FOLLOWS THE C3 FRAMEWORK] and the AHA’s Tuning Project have introduced major changes in history education.  The Tuning Project’s discipline core and the C3 framework both address common student learning goals including appreciation for change, continuity, and context; causation and argumentation; perspectives of historical observers, actors, and historians; and the development and use of historical evidence.  The C3 Framework encourages states to upgrade their K-12 social studies standards by offering robust guidelines to promote inquiry-based learning in History. The AHA Tuning Project works to “articulate the disciplinary core of historical study and to define what a student should understand and be able to do at the completion of a history degree program.” C3 and Tuning seek to accomplish similar goals in history education, just on a sliding scale of expectations for learning that is scaffolded [NOTE – A JARGON TERM REFERRING TO THE BUILDING BLOCKS] from elementary school through an undergraduate degree. Unfortunately, there has been little opportunity for these two groups to engage in a dialogue about their shared work until now. In this roundtable, historians who wrote and have interpreted the C3 framework and those active in the Tuning Project will exchange ideas about:

(1) redefining history education from K-20 in the United States,

(2) bridging between secondary school and post-secondary studies

(3) clarifying advice offered for college preparation, and

(4) alerting higher education instructors to the expectations of their incoming students.

K–16 History Education: Recognizing Interdependence and Moving toward Coherence

The teaching and learning of history must be a K-16 endeavor. In order to ensure that the discipline plays a vital role in the education of all individuals, it is crucial to recognize the interdependence of history teachers and history learners across the K-16 continuum. How do history teachers at the elementary, secondary, and post-secondary levels engage students in discipline-specific reading and writing? How do they assess student learning? How do they make adjustments in their instruction based on their understanding of students’ strengths and weaknesses with respect to historical thinking? By the same token, how do history learners at the elementary, secondary, and post-secondary levels come to understand the nature of the discipline? How do they demonstrate various aspects of historical thinking? To what extent can they articulate cohesive narratives about the past? The persistent questions above have been examined thoroughly in literature pertaining to historical thinking, learning in history, and the preparation of history teachers. Oftentimes, however, conversations have focused only on historical thinking, teaching, and learning at specific and often segregated grade levels. What do these ideas mean in the context of K-16 history education as a whole? What can all history educators learn from our students and from each other?

All teachers of history encounter students with various levels of experience; likewise, we bring various levels of experience to conversations about teaching and learning in the discipline. The purpose of this roundtable is to bring together elementary, secondary, and post-secondary history teachers in order to foster discussion and comparative scholarly research related to history teaching and learning across the K-16 continuum. Roundtable participants will share their respective qualitative and quantitative analyses of their elementary, secondary, and post-secondary students’ epistemological understandings and construction of narratives, and they will explain how they adjust instruction based on their students’ representation and framing of history. The audience will be invited to consider the ideas their own K-16 students bring to the history classroom and contribute to dialogues about how all teachers of history might engage in systematic and scholarly reflection in order to use evidence to better understand the learning needs of our students.

Tuning Disruptions: The AHA Tuning Project and Practical Suggestions for Rethinking History Courses, Assignments, and Curricula

The AHA’s “Tuning” project draws faculty into thoughtful discussions of the knowledge, skills, and abilities we seek to develop in our students through history courses and curricula.  One of the key goals is to make our implicit assumptions about historical study more explicit to learners.  We are asked to shift away from an individualized focus on  “my course” to a shared model of instruction grounded in the ways teaching assignments integrate with “our curriculum.” Historians are encouraged to open a broad conversation about our disciplinary principles by moving across 2-year/4-year institutional divides. We are also asked to discuss the learning outcomes for our field not only with instructors but also with a diverse range of “stakeholders” including students, alumni, parents, employers, and policymakers. And we come to understand the importance of reflecting more rigorously – and collectively – on the types of assignments we create for our courses, tying assignments as closely as possible to the “outcomes” we define for a class.

In what ways has the project, since 2012, prompted historians to reexamine and reframe the classes they teach?  Rather than discussing course “disruptions” in the abstract, this session will examine the subject in actual practice. The roundtable will gather a diverse group of faculty who have used their introductory, upper-division, and capstone classes as “labs” for Tuning-related experiments in teaching and learning. Presentations will be concise and pointed, addressing concrete ways in which instructors: (a) appeal to both majors and non-majors; (b) connect content and competencies; (c) develop appropriate class exercises; (d) connect topics of study to an intentional curriculum; (e) contribute to a record of assessing student learning; and (f) clarify the skills students have developed. The goal is to review a set of innovative teaching ideas in the first half of the time period — and, in the remaining 45 minutes, open the floor to further audience contributions and questions that address creative teaching strategies.

 

As noted above, these sessions are not content-based but speak to various pedagogical issues in the teaching of history. They are relevant not only at the national level but at the state level. I am not sure exactly where such sessions fit in the present state schedule of conferences. Certainly it would be appropriate to work the social councils on some of these topics. The others probably are more appropriate for a state history conference. What would be the vehicle or forum for even discussing the feasibility of such sessions yet alone implementing them?