The grant, totaling $156,110, helps fund this interdisciplinary institute which is one of several initiatives undertaken in recent years at the Center to foster a deeper understanding of this complex period in Cold War-era history.
“In surveys we’ve conducted, teachers feel there is a significant deficit in their knowledge about the geographic and historical context of the Vietnam War,” says Andy Mink, vice president for education programs at the National Humanities Center. “In particular, teachers feel the need for a greater working knowledge of post-World War II Southeast Asia and how the First Indochina War between the French and Vietnamese in the 1940s and 50s factored into America’s involvement. Given the success of our first summer institute on this subject, we are delighted that the NEH has decided to support our continued efforts to improve teaching about this critical moment in U.S. and global history.”
In addition to greater historical understanding, these education offerings from the NHC look to situate the Vietnam war within a broader context using an interdisciplinary framework that incorporates literature and poetry, anthropology, political science, and economics alongside world history and global studies. Led by Andy Mink and the project’s other codirector, Christian Lentz, associate professor of geography at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the institute will allow participants to work with experts in these areas to help them develop a fuller appreciation for the war as it was understood both within the United States and by those directly involved in the region.
Also, using a variety of emerging technologies, institute participants will be able to interact with content and create visualized instructional materials for classroom use. “Teachers are always looking for new ways to help students learn,” says Mink, “and digital tools that connect different kinds of materials and help students visualize complex relationships and concepts are incredibly valuable. For that reason, we focus not only on increasing content knowledge but on working with teachers to employ state-of-the-art technologies and methodologies in their classrooms.”
The grant supporting NHC’s Vietnam institute was one of 215 awards totaling $29 million recently made by the National Endowment for the Humanities in support of humanities projects around the country.
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