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About the project

How is history communicated to a broader public? Who is involved in the production of historical knowledge? Which kinds of narratives are voiced and heard? How do different cultural and political contexts shape the representation of past events in museums, memorials, films, documentaries, comics, games, podcasts, guided history tours and the urban space? And how does a growing digitalization and use of virtual spaces of communication influence our understandings of history? These were the guiding questions at the heart of our joint online course from which this project grew.

In our virtual classroom, we read and discussed key texts from the up-and-coming academic field of public history which covers various forms of re/constructions of “the past” in the public arena. Ten students from LMU Munich and seven students from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem learned about “doing history” for the public. Through conversations with invited experts we gained valuable insights into the practicalities of bringing history to the public and the debates surrounding these projects. We studied similarities and differences in the historicization of past events in the public realms of Jerusalem and Munich. Then, the students were encouraged to work in international teams to search for and to explore case studies of public history in the cities of Jerusalem and Munich and investigate possible connections and overarching topics relevant for both places. Through this peer-to-peer learning and project-oriented group work of applied history they developed intercultural competences.

The decision to produce podcasts and videos as well as to publish the final results was taken together with the students. By producing these works and preparing them for publication, they were not only trained as public historians able to demonstrate a detailed knowledge of the important themes, questions, and approaches in the field. They also broadened their digital skillsets as we made extensive use of online platforms and tools and explored web-based forms of studying history and presenting the results of historical research to lager audiences.
 
The course increased awareness of the particularities of one’s own as well as other cultures and advanced reflexive practices crucial for all intercultural dialogues, and especially for those conducted between Jerusalem and Munich. At the same time, we critically assessed potentials and challenges of public history as a means to produce a globally-oriented local and national historical consciousness in the virtual realm.