NCHE Call for Proposals
Historical Communities of Promise and Practice
March 17-20, 2022
In June of 1827, the famed German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote a letter to a friend that included a poem entitled United States. The poem opens with the lines
“America, you are better off/ Than our ancient continent.” Goethe suggested that in America history could begin anew, unencumbered by the past and its “ruined
castles” and “useless memories.” Released from historical burdens, America contained the promise of freedom and democracy.
Not long after Goethe proclaimed America a beacon of hope, Frederick Douglass declared it a land of unfulfilled desires for millions of enslaved people. The country remained firmly within the
grips of history. In his autobiography, Douglass asked, “Why am I a slave? Why are some people slaves and others masters? Was there ever a time when this was not so? How did this
relation commence?” For Douglass, realizing the aspirations of the country demanded a political practice of agitation. Writing in 1857, he argued, “The whole history of the
progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of struggle.” The American community was, in fact, several communities each
operating within its own historical context.
How communities define themselves, interact with one another, and change over time has been a subject of examination for thousands of years. In ancient Athens, women and foreigners were
inextricably woven into the fabric of daily life but barred from participating in the practice of political life. This tension was exposed in the plays of Aristophanes and Aeschylus as the
people of Athens attempted to struggle with their own limitations and glimpse an alternative vision of community. In the 1960s, the struggles of Mexican laborers in the fields of California
produced a worker’s rights movement and helped to forge a broader ethnic identity. Today, Hispanics make up nearly 1/5 of the U.S. population but this label fails to capture the complex
political, cultural, and ethnic identities it purports to represent. Distinct communities exist within larger ones and form around a variety of factors: political, racial, ethnic, sexual,
economic. These communities offer a sense of identity, recognition, and purpose but are never static or easy to define making this subject ripe for study.
The National Council for History Education invites proposals on the theme “Historical Communities of Promise and Practice” for the 2022 National Conference. All
proposals will be evaluated by their intellectual content, their ability to engage the audience, and their overall contribution to the teaching of history. The Conference Committee
encourages people from diverse historical communities to submit a presentation for consideration.
Criteria for Program Selection:
- Demonstrates substantial connections to specific historical events and raises questions that are significant and appropriate to historical inquiry.
- Offers prospect of substantial audience engagement.
- Makes meaningful contributions to the teaching of history by demonstrating innovative pedagogical approaches and/or by providing extensive materials for classroom use.
Breakout Session topics are typically interactive “how to” sessions designed for the K-12 educator and are 60-minutes in length.
Poster Session topics range from teaching ideas to research reports. Poster presenters display their information online for the duration of the conference. Presenters can chat with
attendees live or answer questions left at the poster.