Public History Program
Fort Vancouver NHS offers many opportunities for students in several disciplines. One of the more exciting and unique opportunities is in the discipline of public history, a growing area of specialization within the field of history.
The park has a strong Public History Program, where undergraduate and graduate students in the humanities and social sciences can develop and perfect skills such as preparing and presenting a public program, developing an exhibit or publication, creating a mobile app, geotagging historic photographs, or digitizing and organizing and writing documents for public viewing. The key component is that all work benefits and contributes to public understanding of the international significance of the national park and its resources.
The Public History Program is managed by Greg Shine, Chief Ranger & Historian at Fort Vancouver NHS. Shine serves as adjunct faculty in the Department of History at Portland State University and adjunct professor in the Creative Media & Digital Culture Program at Washington State University Vancouver. Working in partnership, he facilitates involvement of park and university staff in the program, including curators, museum technicians, archaeologists, park rangers, historic program coordinators, subject matter experts, special events managers, historic preservationists, and others. The program was initiated as the Public History Field School in 2002 by Shine and Dr. William Lang, and has since expanded to several areas of specialty.
The Public History Program at Fort Vancouver is highly regarded by professionals in the national park system and academia. In 2011, the program gained national recognition as a "Best Practice and Model Field School & Training Program" in The Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands' National Park Service Interpretive Field School Feasibility Study Report. In this report, the Public History Field School was listed as a national model along with the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program Underwater Archaeology Field School, Facility Manager Leaders Program, Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, ProRanger, Indiana University Geologic Field Station, and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.
In 2012, the Organization of American Historians recognized the program nationally in the publication Imperiled Promise: The State of History in the National Park Service authored by four of the nation's most highly regarded professional historians. The report lists the program at Fort Vancouver as one of 12 national examples of "Lamps Among the Path: What's Going Well with History in the National Park Service," and also lists the Public History Field School as the NPS' leading example of "Collaborating with Historians in Colleges and Universities," along with an NPS partnership with the Rhode Island School of Design.