Agenda for National Strategy Meeting of Historians, May 28, 2019

National Strategy Meeting of Historians

May 28, 2019

New York, New York

Meet at The Heyman Center, Columbia University

Dear Colleagues,

Thank you all for agreeing to participate in the National Strategy Meeting of Historians. We are expecting about 60 people at this meeting – with a rich array of ages, different levels of seniority in the profession, races and ethnicities, and gender!

To address as many topics as possible, maximize our time, and intentionally create space for everyone to engage, the day will be divided into two general parts. Throughout, we will use a combination of plenaries and small groups/caucuses.

  • The “Morning Session”: We will focus on the questions posed in the prospectus for the national meeting. (The questions are included in the “Agenda Overview” below.) We will utilize breakout groups as well as convene together in a plenary.
  • The “Afternoon Session”: We will discuss what historians have already been doing, meet in issue caucuses, and report back to the larger group.

Our day will close with a Plenary, in which we together identify next steps and evaluate the meeting. The “Agenda Overview” is below.

See you on May 28, 2019!


9:30     Convene (coffee and tea available, meet and greet)

10:00   Welcome & Introductions

10:15   Icebreaker & Outline Goals of Meeting


National Strategy Meeting Guiding Questions:

  1. What is the role of historians in this time of acute global and national crises?
  2. How can we go forward together, forging stronger alliances and connections nationally and locally with each other, as engaged scholars and with the larger movements?
  3. What is the balance between theoretical work, analyzing the world so as to change it, and actual participation in organizing?
  4. How important is it to act within our profession, including its associations?
  5. Can we (or should we) attempt to intervene in the 2020 electoral process as historians?
  6. How should we engage with the mainstream media as historians?

10:30   Small Group Discussion of Guiding Questions

Each group of six to eight (6-8) people each will discuss the Morning Session guiding questions. A member of the Agenda Committee or the H-PAD Steering Committee will convene each group. Each group will identify a scribe to report back.

11:10    Short 10-minute Break

11:20   Plenary: Report Backs & Consensus-Building  

The ideas from each group are put up on butcher paper so everyone can see them. We then discuss them. The ultimate goal of this Plenary is to build consensus on two key issues: What are the major roles for historians in this current crisis? What do we want this meeting to produce or lead to?  

To set the stage for our Afternoon Session:

During the last 10-15 minutes of the Plenary, individuals can announce the “issue caucuses” they would like to facilitate after lunch. Topics can be suggested in advance, or announced at the meeting. (Examples might include “Making the Alliance with K-12 Teachers,” “Building a Democratic Academy,” “How do we best oppose the Right,” “Confronting the Climate Crisis,” “How to Challenge Escalating Militarism and the New Cold War With China and elsewhere.”)

12:45 Lunch—free time 


1:30    Discussion: What Have We Been Doing & What Can We Learn?

The entire group will reconvene and discuss: What have historians already been doing and what can we learn about each other? (This will be an interactive exercise, using post-it notes. More detailed instructions will be given at the meeting. For a preview, see, “**Post-It Exercise,” at the end of this Agenda.)

2:00     Issue Caucus Meetings        

Goals: Discuss issues and plan initial steps. To report back to the group: Identify at least three (3) concrete steps and/or initiatives for Summer 2019. Identify one (1) longer-term goal.

2:45  Coffee/Tea Break

3:00     Plenary: Issue Caucus Report Backs        

3:30    Plenary: From Ideas to Action

Closing Questions:

  1. How do we turn these ideas into action in light of the consensus set in the morning?
  2. What should we do and how do we do it?
  3. How do we envision working together in the future?
  4. What larger structure do we want to adopt to build upon this meeting and extend our work, and how will it encompass the working groups from the various caucuses?

4:30    Next Steps & Meeting Evaluation

5:00    Reception

** Post-Its Exercise Instructions:

When the meeting opens, each participant will get two (more available for those who want them) sticky notes and a felt-tip pen.  Everyone will get a chance to post a brief descriptions of what they have been doing on a white board titled “What Have Historians Been Doing?” with these headings: writing op-eds/blog posts; active advocacy on social media; academic/university workplace related advocacy groups or efforts; community-based groups/organizing efforts; direct action/ civil disobedience and left parties/political groups; confronting repercussions/restraints on scholar-activism; participating in legislative/electoral work; national organizing efforts/campaigns; work in solidarity with other movements/peoples; curriculum development for public audiences (e.g., syllabi for specific movements; lesson plans for K-12; video or multimedia production); other (we recognize the list may not cover all the possibilities).