Public History Initiative

The Public History Initiative (PHI), launched in fall 2019, is based in the Department of History in the College of Arts & Sciences at Cornell University. The PHI works to stimulate and deepen dialogue among undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, staff, and their wider communities about the sedimented histories that shape our contemporary world.

Public history is any form of historical engagement that moves beyond the traditional classroom and scholarly publication. Public history can include monuments, museum and digital exhibits, oral history, historical preservation, walking tours, performance, documentary film, and other media projects.

The PHI asks students to think critically about diverse modes of historical learning and storytelling and the many ways historical knowledge circulates in public life: Whose histories are privileged and silenced? What strategies can we use to uncover and share knowledge of the past? How does history shape experiences of identity and community? And how can public history help us to better understand society and politics today?

Visit the Public History Initiative website at to learn about PHI courses, events, fellowships, and projects.

Please email questions about the PHI to PHI Director, Professor Stephen Vider, at