Matthew T. Herbst is an Associate Teaching Professor at the University of California San Diego where he serves as Faculty Director of the Making of the Modern World, a general education world history program.

Dr. Herbst’s professional efforts are founded on a commitment to public education, of which he is a product from elementary school in New York to his B.A. at Binghamton University and Ph.D. at the University of Michigan.   Interested in the critical links between higher and pre-collegiate education, he serves as a board member for a public school in Chula Vista and volunteers with high-school youth in Mid-City San Diego. To support teachers, he developed a Summer Institute called “Istanbul Between East and West:  Crossroads of History” for middle and high school teachers (2013 and 2015), funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and is developing a new Summer Institute for 2017.

Prof. Herbst was a founding faculty member of UC San Diego’s college-based First Year Experience program (2014-present) and the university’s Global Seminars abroad (2008-present).  He has developed and led undergraduate world history programs in England, France, Turkey, Thailand and Cambodia, with an upcoming interdisciplinary humanities and geosciences program planned for New Zealand.  As a proponent of experiential learning, Prof. Herbst initiated a service and research sequence, led disability-focused programs in Turkey (2013 and 2014), and offers quarterly wilderness seminars in the deserts and mountains of Southern California, working collaboratively with Outback Adventures.

Prof. Herbst was appointed Associate Faculty Director of the Programs Abroad Office (2013-2016) and serves on campus committees addressing disability, the first-year college experience, public service, and educational policy, and is Board chair of the Burke lectureship.   He has received numerous awards for teaching, including a UCSD Distinguished Teaching Award in 2015.

National Maritime Museum Greenwich

Maritime Museum, Greenwich, England

On the personal side: Before deciding on an academic career, Dr. Herbst explored a variety of fields, including law enforcement and private investigation, the US National Park Service, social service, and religious ministry.   He is the grandson of an immigrant from Guyana who married a sanitation worker in New York City, whose own parents emigrated from Ireland.  He is the son of a Vietnam-era veteran from East Harlem and a junior high school secretary from Queens, NY, and is married to the daughter of Filipino immigrants.  Dr. Herbst and his siblings are his family’s first generation to go to college.  Raised in New York’s Hudson Valley, he was once a high school wrestler, college boxer, and avid runner, and now enjoys strolls in nature and volunteering with high school students.

1964981_10152709976274377_295137695_nMaking of the Modern World Classes:  Pre-History and Ancient Foundations,  Classical and Medieval Traditions 100BCE – 1200, New Ideas and Cultural Encounters 1200-1750,  Revolution, Industry, Empire 1750-1914, and a Graduate Pedagogy Seminar.  Freshman Seminars:  Pleasure or Duty:  Choosing a Guide for Life, Desire & the Spiritual Life, God-Satan-and the Desert (Wilderness Seminar at Anza Borrego Desert State Park), Sacred Mountain (Wilderness Seminar at Mt. San Jacinto State Park), Desert Splendor (interdisciplinary wilderness seminar at Death Valley National Park), First Year Experience, International Student Transition.   Other Courses: Wilderness and Human Values, Byzantine and Ottoman Constantinople, Mystical Traditions, Byzantine Empire, Ancient World, Trade and World History, Eastern Christianity, World History Seminar, Preparatory Seminar on Istanbul, Research Seminar on Istanbul.


4 thoughts on “Bio

  1. tony sensoli

    I am glad “college boxer” made your bio. You were one of the best ever from the University of Michigan Boxing Club.

    • Dr. Tony! So good to hear from you. How are you and the family?
      Whatever I know of boxing — I learned from you. I hope that we can talk soon to catch up.

  2. Thank you for your interesting talk about Istanbul today at the San Diego Museum of Art. I have a few follow-up questions:

    – Can we assume that the traces of Mohammed found by Mehmet II just outside Constantinople are bogus, or is there any archeological/historical evidence to suggest that the prophet was actually there? It reminds me of the stories in the book of Mormon about fantasy peoples of the early Americas and Jesus’ visit to North America.

    – Is modern Turkish ultimately derived from the turkic languages of Central Asia, and not the other way around?

    – By the 19th century, the Ottoman Empire was notorious for corruption; one bought a position in government service and paid a percentage of the graft up the ladder (not unlike the world of The Sopranos). Was it always like this, or when did it start to slide?

    BTW, “The Ionian Mission” by Patrick O’Brian is a modern historical novel set during the Napoleonic wars that deals with a (fictional) attempt by the British to find and support a reliable ally in the Ionian Sea. Part of the intrigue revolves around whether a local coup will create a fait accompli before the Sultan (referred to as the Sublime Porte) can issue a firman naming the new governor.

    The town of Marino, Italy has a festival every year to celebrate their boys coming home from the Battle of Lepanto. The fact that wine and roast pork sandwiches are served celebrating the defeat of the Muslim navy is probably a coincidence.

    • You are welcome. I enjoy that venue very much. A few comments to your questions:
      1. The relics that Mehmet found at Eyüp, just outside the walls of Constantinople, were not of Muhammad but of one of his companions, Ayyub al-Ansari who, according to tradition, died in the 7th century Arab siege of Constantinople.
      2. Yes, Turkish has its origins in Central Asia. The Turks were originally central Asian nomads which explains why Turkic languages are spoken from China (the language of the Uighurs) all the way to Europe (Turkey). These languages are related but not the same, like those in the Romance Language family (Spanish, Italian, Romanian, etc.).
      3. The Ottoman empire of the classical period (to 1600), which was the topic of my talk, was highly efficient, particularly in contrast to various large western kingdoms in the same period. A variety of troubles develop afterwards, however, though some had roots even in the classical period. I expect to present on some of this in a follow up talk in the fall.

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