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 undergraduate world history programs in France, Turkey, England, Thailand and Cambodia, and New Zealand. Since 2012, he has offered humanities-themed wilderness seminars in the deserts and mountains of California each quarter and designed 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 his 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 a Vietnam-era veteran and a middle-school secretary, and is married to a first-generation American whose parents emigrated from the Philippines. 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 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.