The Department of History is expanding its Public History program to focus on new media and cultural heritage management—areas that build on the strength of UCF's location in the greater Orlando metropolitan area. Our first priority is to bring new energy to our M.A. program by turning our public history track into a stand-alone master's degree. In addition, we are infusing our undergraduate program with hands-on, publicly engaged research opportunities.
As a starting point, we have developed a new interdisciplinary initiative—The Regional Initiative for Collecting the History Experiences and Stories of Central Florida. RICHES of Central Florida houses research projects that provide students with opportunities to focus on promoting heritage tourism, using business history in a community context, collecting veterans' histories, examining cultural identity, or other facets of regional history. These projects go hand-in-hand with our program that seeks to train historians in methodologies and techniques of public history that can be applied to audio, video, digital and other forms of emerging media. They also furnish excellent possibilities for students in a wide range of other disciplines and graduate programs from Digital Media to Film to Business and Anthropology. We already have begun and will continue to explore collaboration with the M.F.A. program in Digital Media and the Ph.D. program in Texts and Technology, and will look to partner with projects at UCF's Center for Emerging Media, Center for Humanities and Digital Research, and Institute for Simulation and Training.
An emphasis on new media allows us to build on the History Department's strengths and provides our students with skill sets that will make them competitive for jobs at historical agencies in Central Florida and nationally. By shifting our focus, we are expanding the program's scope beyond that of traditional public history programs, which tend to train public historians to preserve and interpret history at museums, archives, historic sites, national parks, and other agencies that speak to a particular region and its history. In addition, students can create virtual exhibits, artifact databases, podcasts, and other media on topics related to African, Asian, European, Latin American and Middle Eastern history as well as the local region. Thus using new media allows us to build on the department's philosophical approach that encourages the study of history broadly across time and space, while allowing students to apply their training in local and global contexts.
While we are using new media to add a global component to the program, our second emphasis on cultural heritage management takes advantage of the particular local assets of Central Florida. This focus is on the identification, interpretation, maintenance and preservation of cultural sites as well as the less tangible aspects of heritage such as languages and cultures. Training our students in cultural heritage management will provide them with skills for jobs in heritage tourism, historic preservation, corporate history, and urban archaeology. At the same time, students will engage in solving problems related to sustainability in the region. This emphasis also promotes collaboration with other UCF colleges and departments, as well as developing greater links with the Central Florida community.
We have already begun developing our new curriculum and we anticipate expanding our faculty with expertise in various areas of public history over the next several years. Our ultimate goal is to develop a Ph.D. program and a Center for Public History—two endeavors we believe will provide our students with forward-looking skills for practicing history in the twenty-first century.