DL and ME
with the Dalai Lama, UC San Diego

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 holds affiliate appointments in History and Classical Studies and also teaches in Environmental Studies.  

A proponent of experiential learning, Prof. Herbst serves as faculty co-director of UC San Diego’s Study Abroad and was a Global Seminar inaugural faculty in 2008.  He has led ten world history and environmental programs in Asia, Europe, and Oceania, with an eleventh program launching in 2021 (in the High Sierras).   He has offered experiential programs in National Parks, in the American Southwest, and in Turkey, and has led 22 environmental humanities seminars in the deserts and mountains of California in partnership with UCSD’s Outback Adventures.    On the other end of the teaching spectrum, he is also an advocate of remote instruction and has created fully-online and hybrid courses, including World Wisdom Traditions, Ancient/Medieval World History, and Wilderness & Human Values, and supports faculty with their online course development and pedagogy. 

Hovering out to sea: Visiting USS Gabrielle Giffords

Active in campus service, Prof. Herbst serves on university committees addressing disability (since 2010), undergraduate education (since 2015), international education (since 2020), and the planning of Eighth College (2019-2021); and previously on Public Service (chair, 2018-2020), Preparatory Education (chair, 2018-19), Educational Policy (chair, 2016-17), and the Burke Lectureship on Religion and Society (chair, 2015-19).  He has received various awards for his professional activity, including Outstanding Faculty (2009), Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching (2015), an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Award (2017), and a Changemaker Faculty Fellowship (2020-2022).

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. To support student success, he served as a founding faculty member of his campus’ college-based First Year Experience & Transfer Year Experience programs, designed to facilitate successful transition to the university, and teaches these each year. 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 Summer Institutes for teachers.   

On the personal side:    From Queens, New York and the Hudson Valley, Dr. Herbst and siblings are his family’s first generation to attend college.  He is theIMG_2673
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 from East Harlem 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 VA Hospital system.  Before pursuing an academic career, Prof. Herbst explored a variety of fields, including National Park Service, law enforcement and private investigation, and social services.   In days gone by, he was a high school wrestler, college boxer, and avid runner, and now spends time kayaking in San Diego waters and meandering about mountains and deserts of Southern California.


9 Comments Add yours

  1. tony sensoli says:

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

    1. ucsdherbst says:

      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. Louis Cohen says:

    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.

    1. ucsdherbst says:

      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.

  3. Julie Herbst says:

    UCSD Diversity Award recipient! Congratulations!

  4. Congratulations! I am in awe of you and family. Proud to know you! UCSD is amazing.

    1. ucsdherbst says:

      Thank you, Marie! I’m excited about our future projects!

  5. Patricia Lothrop says:

    Your contributions to ABC-CLIO’s The Byzantine Empire are admirably clear, informative, and thoughtfully organized. You wrote the bulk of Volume One, and I wish you had edited the set: I am convinced that you wouldn’t have permitted the weak writing so evident in the “Military” section (inter alia) to detract from the value of the project.

    1. ucsdherbst says:

      Thank you, Patricia.

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