Matthew T. Herbst is the faculty director of the Making of the Modern World (MMW) general education world history program at the University of California San Diego (Eleanor Roosevelt College). He is affiliated faculty in History and Classical Studies, and also teaches in Environmental Studies.
A proponent of experiential learning, Prof. Herbst was an inaugural faculty member for UC San Diego’s Global Seminars in 2008. He has since led ten world history programs in Asia, Europe, and Oceania, among the 38 MMW programs abroad, which have been offered on every continent except Antarctica; his eleventh program is planned for next year. He also leads experiential programs in National Parks, on the Navajo Reservation, and in Turkey, and has offered 22 environmental humanities seminars in the deserts and mountains of California in partnership with UCSD’s Outback Adventures. In addition, Prof. Herbst was a founding faculty member of the college-based First Year & Transfer Year Experience programs, designed to facilitate successful student transition to the university, and teaches these courses each year. His current projects include the creation of a new online ‘wisdom of the world’ course, studies on environmental history in the context of pre-modern world history, and a work of historical fiction.
Dr. Herbst’s professional efforts stem from a commitment to public education, through which he was educated, from elementary school in New York to his B.A. at Binghamton University (as a first-generation college student) and Ph.D. in History at the University of Michigan. Interested in fostering links between pre-collegiate and higher education, he serves as a proposal reviewer for NEH Seminars and Institutes for secondary education and offers regular world history teacher trainings in Southern California. Previously, he was a public school board member, a content expert for the California Department of Education’s review of new world history curricula, and a director for NEH World History Teacher Institutes in Istanbul.
Active in campus service, Prof. Herbst serves on UCSD committees addressing disability (since 2010) and undergraduate education (since 2015). He is chair of the Public Service committee (2018-2020) and was formerly chair of Preparatory Education (2018-19), Educational Policy (2016-17), and the Burke Lectureship on Religion and Society (2015-19), and was Associate Faculty Director of Study Abroad (2013-2015). Dr. Herbst has received multiple awards for his professional activity, including Outstanding Faculty, Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching, and an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Award.
On the personal side: From Queens (Ridgewood), New York and raised in the Hudson Valley, Dr. Herbst and siblings are his family’s first generation to attend college. He is the
grandson of an immigrant from South America, who married a sanitation worker from Queens, who was himself the son of Irish immigrants. Prof. Herbst is the child of a Vietnam War-era veteran and a middle-school secretary, who wedded as teens. He is married to a first-generation American whose parents emigrated from the Philippines, serving and retiring from the US Navy and San Diego’s VA Hospital, respectively. Before pursuing an academic career, Dr. Herbst explored a variety of fields, including 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 spends time meandering about deserts and mountains of Southern California.