Matthew T. Herbst is a professor at the University of California San Diego, where he is director of the Making of the Modern World general education world history program and affiliated faculty in the Department of History and Program for the Study of Religion, and also teaches in the Environmental Studies Program.
A proponent of experiential learning, Prof. Herbst was an inaugural faculty member of the university’s Global Seminars in 2008 and has led eleven summer world history programs in eight countries in Asia, Europe, and Oceania (with a twelfth program planned for 2021), as well as service-learning programs in Turkey, on the Navajo Reservation, on Catalina Island, and in National Parks of CA. In addition, Since 2012 he has led 20 environmental humanities seminars in the deserts and mountains of Southern California in partnership with UCSD’s Outback Adventures. In 2014, he was also 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, in which he was educated, from elementary school in New York to his B.A. at Binghamton University (as a first-generation college student) and his Ph.D. in History at the University of Michigan. He believes in the role of public education in fortifying democratic values and upholding the standard of evidence-based argument against assaults by ideology, strategic misinformation, willful ignorance, and other forces of erosion. 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 California Department of Education’s review of new world history curricula, as a proposal reviewer for National Endowment for the Humanities Seminars and Institutes for teachers, offers world history teacher trainings, and co-leads an educational enhancement program for refugee and historically under-represented high school students. Prof. Herbst is currently developing grant-funded online humanities courses, a history youtube channel, and writing a text on Byzantium in World History.
Prof. Herbst is a member of campus committees addressing disability (since 2010) and undergraduate education (since 2015). He is chair of the university committee on Public Service (2018-2020) and formerly chaired committees on Preparatory Education (2018-19), Educational Policy Committee (2016-17), and the Burke lectureship on religion and society (2015-19). Prof. Herbst has received multiple awards for professional activity, including an Outstanding Faculty Award, a UCSD Distinguished Teaching Award, and a UCSD 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 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 spends time meandering through mountains, deserts, and canyons of Southern California.