Welcome to the Public History Initiative (PHI) of the UCLA Department of History.

What is public history?

“Public history describes the many and diverse ways in which history is put to work in the world.” – NCPH 

Public history includes:

  • The communication of history to public audiences
  • The study of how publics engage with the past and what societies choose to remember
  • The application of historical understandings and methodologies to the present

Museums, memorials, and monuments are all examples of public history. But the world of public history also extends well beyond the cultural sphere. History is applied to policy, to urban planning, and to business.

The PHI aims to facilitate widespread understanding that history is not only useful, but it is essential to grasping the human condition. Our mission is to move the insights and expertise of the UCLA Department of History beyond the academy into the realm of the general public. We share and make accessible historical practices, findings, and perspectives. We cultivate broad understandings for how the present grew out of the past. We empower graduate and undergraduate students to become productive, analytical, and engaged citizens through internships and public engagement programming. We support  efforts to enliven the teaching of history at the university and K-12 level. We expand the reach of the department’s scholarship and training as well as the social value of the discipline by:

  • researching the relevance of the past,
  • innovating curricula and courses,
  • producing public programs, and
  • fostering core competencies and professional development for desirable career outcomes.

Our HistoryCorps program places undergraduate history students in credit-earning internships in museums, schools, cultural institutions and community organizations in the Los Angeles region.

The National Center for History in the Schools (NCHS), a division of the PHI, seeks to enliven the teaching of history at the university and K-12 level through publication and professional development resources and collaboration with educators.