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The Student Insider

Institute of Historical Research launches its first MOOC


The IHR's 'Applied Public History: Places, People, Stories' MOOC will appeal to anyone with a passion for discovering and sharing stories from the past.

IHR MOOC word cloud

October 2020 sees the launch of the first MOOC – a free Massive Open Online Course – from the Institute of Historical Research (School of Advanced Study) – the UK’s national centre for history.

Created by the IHR’s Centre for the History of People, Place and Community, the course introduces learners to applied public history: understanding and interpreting the past today, and engaging diverse communities in the practice of making and sharing histories.

The course draws on project case studies, expert insights and diverse perspectives to model exciting approaches to researching and sharing the history of places and people. It features the unique, diverse projects and expertise based in the Centre, including the Victoria County History of England (founded 1899), and the Layers of London crowdsourced digital history project, as well as contributions from the Centre’s collaborators and partners across academia, the heritage sector and creative industries throughout the UK.

Across six weeks, learners can develop a toolkit to apply in their own practice, by participating in discussion, quizzes, creative activities and mini masterclasses. The course is available ‘on demand’, meaning that learners can start whenever it suits them.

The MOOC will help you develop transferable skills and approaches for your own place, and your own area of interest.

The MOOC is for anyone with an interest in history: history students and academics seeking to develop skills in public engagement, heritage professionals and volunteers, history teachers and educators, community groups and local history societies, all those looking for a Continuing Professional Development opportunity in this area, and anyone who’s passionate about discovering and sharing stories from the past.

Wherever you are in the world, the MOOC will help you develop transferable skills and approaches for your own place, and your own area of interest.

What kinds of stories can we discover through research into the history of places and people? How do we engage diverse communities with those stories today? What kinds of imaginative approaches can we use to interpret the past? And what tools and opportunities can we create to include new groups and individuals in local research initiatives?

Launching at a time when the COVID-19 ‘lockdowns’ of 2020 – across the world – have reinforced the importance of our local places and communities, the MOOC also offers a timely opportunity to focus on the richness of local histories and stories, and the value of heritage in shaping our present and future.

Course instructor Professor Catherine Clarke, Director of the IHR’s Centre for the History of People, Place and Community, said:

“We’ve been lucky enough to feature some inspirational public historians and projects, from the Runnymede Trust’s Our Migration Story to Youth Club Archive, local Victoria County History volunteers in Leicestershire, oral histories with Syrian refugees, and the #RememberHer project to commemorate women in London. It’s also been great to delve into the wonderful collections of the IHR Wohl Library. Sharing beautiful and unusual historical maps on camera has been a real highlight.”

The MOOC is designed to create an online community and a space for collaboration where participants can share expertise and insights and exchange ideas. If you’re interested in history in communities today, please join us!