Matthew T. Herbst is the faculty director of the Making of the Modern World general education world history program at the University of California San Diego (Eleanor Roosevelt College). He is a teaching professor and affiliated faculty in the Department of History and Classical Studies Program and also teaches in Environmental Studies.
A proponent of experiential learning, Prof. Herbst was an inaugural faculty member of the university’s Global Seminars in 2008 and has led eleven world history programs in Asia, Europe, and Oceania, and six experiential-learning programs in Turkey, on the Navajo Reservation, on Catalina Island, and in National Parks of CA. In addition, since 2012 he has led two dozen environmental humanities seminars in the deserts and mountains of Southern California in partnership with UCSD’s Outback Adventures. 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 the first-quarter freshman and transfer courses each fall.
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 served as a public school board member, as a Content Review Expert for the California Department of Education’s review of new world history curricula, as a director for two world history Summer Institutes for teachers and a proposal reviewer for NEH Seminars and Institutes; he also offers world history teacher trainings and co-leads an educational enhancement program for historically under-represented high school students. Prof. Herbst is currently developing digital projects, including online world history courses, and is studying the age of Justinian from contrasting vantage points, both local and global.
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). Dr. Herbst has received multiple teaching awards, including Outstanding Faculty, Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching, and an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Award.
On the personal side: From Queens, New York and raised in the Hudson Valley, Dr. Herbst and his 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 New York City, who was the son of Irish immigrants. Prof. Herbst is the child of a Vietnam-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 meanders through mountains, deserts, and canyons of Southern California.