Faculty: Dr. Ethan Birney
By Radhika Vaid, Staff Writer
Grant Helps Professor Enhance History Teachings
History is one of the most important academic pursuits to any student’s academic career. Earlier this year, History Professor Dr. Ethan Birney was awarded a $2,000 Course Enhancement Grant from Boston University’s African Studies Center to enhance his Modern World History course (HIST 112).
When Dr. Birney taught the course in Spring 2021, he recognized that non-Western history, particularly that of Africa, was not receiving due attention. To address this deficit, Dr. Birney took a course on Medieval Africa through the National Humanities Center. This course inspired him to broaden his teaching of African history and his subsequent grant application.
“Several students commented on their interest in African history because it’s part of their heritage; the class excites the students, and they want to learn more,” Dr. Birney said. In future semesters he plans to continue teaching African history and incorporating more diverse voices.
The award encourages teachers to design an inclusive syllabus which better incorporates African history. The grant will affect students’ understanding in Dr. Birney’s class by making them more aware of African history and promoting the understanding of primary sources.
The African Studies Center grant is set up to help educators increase their coverage of African-related materials in one of their courses. Dr. Birney applied with a letter of support from SMC’s Associate Provost for Online Strategy, Dr. Toni Bennett. The $2,000 grant is awarded in two halves, $1,000 after being announced and $1,000 upon submitting a revised syllabus.