As the Gary Hess Lecture approaches and our speaker, Bill Allison, is a distinguished graduate of our program, we take the opportunity to share this post of our colleague Dr. Doug Forsyth about the department’s contributions to the field of Policy History —Amílcar E. Challú
Beginning in 1973, the History Department offered a PhD, with the first doctorate awarded in 1977. In 1989, with the support of an Academic Challenge grant from the Ohio Board of Regents, the Department concentrated on a niche program in policy history. It successfully placed the majority of its graduates in teaching and research positions at universities and colleges, and others in prominent public policy making positions. Owing to the loss of faculty positions and financial retrenchment, the department stopped accepting new students into the program in 2010.
Graduates of the program include William Thomas Allison (PhD, 1995), Prof. of History, Georgia Southern University; Kathren Brown (PhD 1997), Associate Professor of History, Utah Valley University; Xin-Zhu Chin, Associate Professor of History, Edinboro University (PhD 1998); Matthew Lawrence Daley (PhD 2004), Associate Prof. of History, Grand Valley University, Grand Rapids, Michigan; Phyllis Gernhardt, (PhD 1999), Associate Professor of History, University of St. Francis, Fort Wayne; Mary Farmer Kaiser (PhD 2000), Associate Professor of History, University of Louisana, Lafayette; Michael M. Kithinji, (PhD 2009), Assistant Professor at the University of Arkansas, Fort Smith; Josip Močnik (PhD 2008), Director of Libraries, Georgia College; Charles C. Morrissey (PhD 2001), Senior Defense Scientist and Team Leader, Force Planning Team, Defense Research Development, Department of National Defense, Canada; Luke A. Nichter, (PhD 2008), Assistant Professor of History, Texas A&M University—Central Texas; Chizuru Saeki (PhD 2003), Associate Professor of History, University of North Alabama; Robert S. Smith, (PhD 2002), Associate Professor of History, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; Seneca Vaught (PhD 2006), Assistant Professor of History, Kennesaw State University; Luc Walhain, (PhD 2005), Associate Prof. of History, St. Thomas University, Fredericton, New Brunswick (Canada); and Zachery Williams (PhD 2003), Associate Professor of History, University of Akron.
Dissertations produced by our program won the annual prize of the Ohio Academy of History for best PhD dissertation in the state of Ohio twice: Michael Mwenda Kithinji, in 2011, for “From Colonial Elitism to Moi’s Populism: The Policies and Politics of University Education in Kenya, 1949-2002;” and Luke A. Nichter, in 2010, for “Richard Nixon and Europe: Confrontation and Cooperation, 1969-1974.”
Books by alumni of our PhD program that directly built from their work in our program include: William Thomas Allison, My Lai: An American Atrocity in the Vietnam War (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012); The Gulf War, 1990-1 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012); Todd A. Good, The Free Trade Area and the Construction of Great Britain’s European Policy, 1952-1958 (Lewiston NY: Edwin Mellen, 2003); Luke A. Nichter, Lyndon B. Johnson: Pursuit of Populism, Paradox of Power (Hauppauge NY: Nova, 2013); George W. Bush: Life of Privilege, Leadership in Crisis (Hauppauge NY: Nova, 2012); Zachery Williams, In Search of the Talented Tenth: Howard University Intellectuals and the Dilemmas of Race in Academia, 1926-1970 (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2009); and Zachery Williams ed., Africana Cultures and Policy Studies: Scholarship and the Transformation of Public Policy (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009).
The department has hosted or co-hosted a series of national conferences with a policy history focus, including “The Unintended Consequences of Policy Decisions” (5-7 June 1997); “Borders and Inequality,” (1-3 June 2000); “The Social Impact of Policy in History” (9-11 November 2001); “The Nuremberg War Crimes Trial and its Policy Consequences Today (6-7 October 2006); “Nuclear Asia: A Symposium on Policy, Proliferation, and Weapons Research in the Cold War and Beyond” (12 October 2007).
Policy history remains the primary research focus of several BGSU history faculty members, and they continue to participate in important initiatives in the field. Prof. Forsyth is Book Review Editor of H-Policy, the H-Net site devoted to policy history. The department offers a graduate seminar for its MA program titled ‘Introduction to Policy History.’ Student in our BA and MA degree programs continue to be interested in the subject and have produced theses in this field.