Serving a New Generation of Students: How the History Program Used Its Curriculum Grant


In this audio interview, we hear from two recipients of the Doctoral Curriculum Enhancement Grant awarded to the History program, which they used to research the state of the field, build new courses, encourage internships, and expand how students can fulfill program requirements. Professor Annie Valk and doctoral student Deena Ecker discuss the role of the public historian, how to free the field of history from antiquated notions of academia, and the importance of advocating for up-and-coming scholars.

This interview was recorded by Nic Benacerraf on March 27, 2023.




“I see our role as faculty to help students get the skills and the opportunities that they need in order to live out their dreams, not to tell them that they can’t do ‘that.’ And I think we can do that as faculty and still have high standards and high expectations of students.”

— Annie Valk

Headshot of Annie Valk

Annie Valk is a specialist in oral history, public history, and the social history of 20th century United States. Before coming to The Graduate Center, she was associate director for public humanities and a lecturer in history at Williams College, where she taught experiential and community-based classes in oral history and public history. Prior to that, she was associate professor of history and director of women’s studies at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and deputy director of the Center for Public Humanities at Brown University.  She has written extensively in the areas of women’s history, history of feminism, and oral history. Her books include Radical Sisters: Second-Wave Feminism and Black Liberation in Washington, DC, 1968-1980 and Living with Jim Crow: African American Women and Memories of the Segregated South, co-authored with Leslie Brown and recipient of the 2011 Oral History Association Book Prize. Valk has served as president of the Oral History Association and is book series editor of the Oral History Series published by Oxford University Press.

Headshot of Deena Ecker

Deena Ecker is a PhD candidate in History at the Graduate Center, CUNY. Deena focuses on social and urban history, the history of gender and sexuality, and public history. Her research looks at prostitutes, pop culture, and sexual culture in the early 20th century in New York, and she hopes to turn the research into documentaries as well as traditional academic writing. Deena also teaches American History at CCNY.


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