MA in Public History

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Public History is history as it is experienced by, interpreted for, and communicated to, the public. It is the history we encounter in museums, historic sites, Hollywood films, popular books, magazines and graphic novels, as well as in games and on websites. It is a street corner commemorative plaque, a Steven Spielberg blockbuster historical movie, an Assassin’s Creed video game, and the stories of our families and communities.

Public history involves understanding the numerous ways in which people engage with the past and learning how to communicate it to larger audiences through a variety of tools, including exhibits, film, oral history, digital media and historic sites. It is also about incorporating the past into today’s world, be it through the development of government policy, design of curriculum plans, or the planning and implementation of heritage and tourism campaigns.     

The MA Public History Program at Western is Canada’s longest-running program of its kind. Established in 1986, it provides graduate students with the knowledge, skills, training and practical experience required to promote historical research and understanding within the public sphere. The program consists of coursework ranging from collaborative projects with community partners to archives, digital history, museology and interactive exhibit design, followed by a summer internship with local, provincial, national or international heritage and cultural institutions. A chief aim of our program is to produce graduates who are career-ready. 

Mike Dove, Director

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Western’s MA Public History Program is grateful for core financial support from the George Cedric Metcalf Charitable Foundation. Thank you!