Matthew T. Herbst is an Associate Teaching Professor at the University of California San Diego, where he is Director of the Making of the Modern World, Eleanor Roosevelt College’s general education world history program, and Affiliated Faculty in the Department of History.  He is passionate about the critical role that public education plays in fortifying democratic values and the need for an inclusive educational environment, where all students can thrive.

A proponent of experiential learning, Prof. Herbst was a founding faculty member of the university’s Global Seminars in 2008 and has led nine undergraduate world history programs in England, France, Turkey, Thailand and Cambodia, New Zealand, and upcoming in Austraila.  Since 2012, he has led humanities-themed wilderness seminars in the deserts and mountains of California each quarter and offers a new intercultural program on the Navajo Reservation for 2017-18.  He was also a founding faculty member of the college-based First Year Experience program in 2014, designed to facilitate successful student transition to the university, and teaches this each fall.

Dr. Herbst’s professional efforts stem from a commitment to public education, of
which he is a product, from elementary school in New York to DL and MEhis B.A. in History and Classical Studies at Binghamton University (as a first-generation college student) and Ph.D. in History at the University of Michigan.  Dedicated to fostering links between pre-collegiate and higher education, he served as a public school board member (2014-16) and as a Content Review Expert for the CA Department of Education’s review of new social studies curricula (grades 6 – 8); he has spoken in public school classrooms, state-wide and internationally; he leads an educational enhancement program for refugee high school students; and offers world history teacher trainings, including summer institutes funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.   Prof. Herbst is currently developing grant-funded online humanities courses, working with UC San Diego’s Education Technology Services, and will launch the first course in 2018.

Prof. Herbst is a member of campus committees addressing disability (since 2010) and outdoor education (since 2016) and is board chair of the Burke lectureship on religion and society (since 2015).  Dr. Herbst has previously served as chair of the university’s Educational Policy Committee, as Associate Faculty Director of the Programs Abroad Office (2013-2016), and on the Academic Senate’s Representative Assembly and the Planning Task Force to develop a seventh college.  He has received multiple awards for teaching, including a UCSD Distinguished Teaching Award in 2015.

On the personal side:    From Queens and raised in New York’s Hudson Valley, Dr. Herbst and his siblings are his family’s first generation to go to college.  He is the grandson of an immigrant from South America, who married a sanitation worker from New York City, who was himself the son of Irish immigrants.  Prof. Herbst is the child of a1964981_10152709976274377_295137695_n Vietnam-era veteran and a middle-school secretary, and is married to a first-generation American whose parents emigrated from the Philippines.  He is also the brother of an immigrant from Korea.   Before pursuing an academic career, Dr. Herbst explored a variety of fields, including the National Park Service, law enforcement and private investigation, social services, and religious ministry.    In days gone by, he was a high school wrestler, college boxer, and avid runner, and now enjoys wandering through trails and canyons of Southern California, walking his dog, and volunteering with the International Rescue Committee.

Courses.  World History:  Pre-History and Ancient Foundations, Classical and Medieval Traditions 100BCE – 1200, New Ideas and Cultural Encounters 1200-1750,  Revolution, Industry, Empire 1750-1914, Ancient and Medieval World History.   Other History:  Wilderness & Human Values, Disability and the Arts, Byzantine & Ottoman Constantinople, The Mystical Tradition, Byzantine Empire.  Seminars:  Disability and Human Rights, God-Satan-& the Desert (Wilderness Seminar), Sacred Mountain (Wilderness Seminar), Desert Splendor (Wilderness seminar), First Year Experience, Pleasure or Duty:  Choosing a Guide for Life, Desire & the Spiritual Life, Graduate and Undergraduate TA training seminars.


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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