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, a general education world history program, Affiliated Faculty in the Department of History, and a faculty member in the Environmental Studies Program. 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 an inaugural faculty member of the university’s Global Seminars in 2008 and has led ten undergraduate world history programs in Asia, Europe, and Oceania (Thailand, Cambodia, Turkey, England, France, Italy, New Zealand, and Australia), as well as service-learning programs in Turkey (2013, 2014), on the Navajo Reservation (2018), and on Catalina Island (2019). Since 2012, he has also led twenty environmental humanities seminars in the deserts and mountains of Southern California. In addition, in 2014 he was a founding faculty member of the college-based First Year Experience program, which is 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, 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 his 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, as a Content Review Expert for the CA Department of Education’s review of new world history curricula (2017), as a proposal reviewer for National Endowment for the Humanities Seminars and Institutes for teachers (2018), and offers world history teacher trainings. He also co-leads an educational enhancement program for refugee high school students. Prof. Herbst is currently developing grant-funded online humanities courses and writing a text on Byzantium in World History.
Prof. Herbst is a member of campus committees addressing disability (since 2010) and outdoor education (since 2016) and serves on the Academic Senate’s Representative Assembly. He serves as chair of university committees on Preparatory Education (2018-19) and Public Service (2018-2020), and formerly chaired the Burke lectureship on religion and society (2015-2019) and the campus’ Educational Policy Committee (2016-2017). Prof. Herbst has received multiple awards for his professional activity, including an Outstanding Faculty Award (2009), UCSD Distinguished Teaching Award (2015), and a UCSD Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Award (2018).
On the personal side: From Queens, New York 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 and served in the US Navy and at a Veterans Administration Hospital. 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.