About Prof.Herbst

1006178_10151677960100379_324784756_nMatthew T. Herbst is a Teaching Professor at the University of California San Diego where he is Director of the Making of the Modern World program and Associate Faculty Director of the Programs Abroad Office.   Prof. Herbst was a founding faculty member of UC San Diego’s Global Seminars, developing and leading programs in Paris (2008), Istanbul (2009 to 2012), London (2013), and Bangkok (2014), and is the founder and director of “Istanbul Between East and West:  Crossroads of History,” a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute for middle- and high-school teachers (2013 and 2015, pending funding).  As an advocate of experiential learning, he initiated a two-course service-learning sequence in 2012 and led this in Istanbul in 2013 and 2014, focusing on disability issues.   Back in Southern California, Dr. Herbst leads quarterly undergraduate seminars in the wilderness of Anza-Borrego Desert and Mt. San Jacinto State Parks, working in partnership with Outback Adventures.     Dr. Herbst is Vice Chair of the Burke lectureship and serves on campus committees dealing with issues of disability, preparatory education, basic writing, and the first-year college experience.  Prof. Herbst has served as faculty fellow at UC San Diego’s Center for Teaching Development and International House and received awards for excellence in teaching and for international education.  His academic interests include Constantinople/Istanbul, international and wilderness program development, experiential learning, and the spirituality of nature.  He received his Ph.D. and M.A. in History from the University of Michigan, specializing in Byzantium, and his BA in History, Greek, and Latin from Binghamton University.

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.   Dr. Herbst is the grandson of an immigrant from Guyana in South America and a New York City sanitation worker whose 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 were his family’s first generation to go to college.  His family experience—diverse in race, ethnicity, religion, ability and disability—inspires his commitment to inclusion and fuels his professional work. Raised in New York’s Hudson Valley, he was a high school wrestler, college boxer, and runner until slowed down by knee problems. These days he enjoys nature and family, developing wilderness and international programs, teaching, and serving as a board member for his children’s elementary school.

Courses: Making of the Modern World:  MMW11 Pre-History and Ancient Foundations, MMW12 Classical and Medieval Traditions, MMW13 New Ideas and Cultural Encounters (1200-1750), MMW14 Revolution, Industry, Empire (1750-1917), MMW200 Graduate Pedagogy Seminar.  Freshman Seminars:  Sacred Mountain, God-Sex-Chocolate: Desire & the Spiritual Life, God-Satan-and the Desert, Pleasure or Duty:  Choosing a Guide for Life.  Other: Constantinople:  Byzantine & Ottoman Imperial Capital, Mystical Traditions, Byzantine Empire, The Ancient World, Trade and World History, Eastern Christianity, World History Seminar, Hermit and Society: Eremitical Traditions, Preparatory Seminar on Istanbul, Research Seminar on Istanbul.

4 Comments

4 thoughts on “About Prof.Herbst

  1. tony sensoli

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

    • 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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