Matthew Herbst is a professor at the University of California San Diego, serving as director of the Making of the Modern World program, co-director of Classical Studies, and faculty co-director of Study Abroad.
Dr. Herbst specializes in the pedagogical leadership of academic programs and experiential learning opportunities at home and abroad. He was an inaugural professor of UCSD’s Global Seminars in 2008 and has led 12 summer programs in Asia, Europe, Oceania, and North America. He offered 8 other academic programs in Turkey, California, and the U.S. Southwest, and led 23 seminars in the deserts and mountains of California.
Dr. Herbst was a first-generation college student. He completed his B.A. at Binghamton University, studying History, Classics, Greek and Latin, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in History at the University of Michigan. To foster student success at UC San Diego, Prof. Herbst collaborated to found the college-based First Year Experience & Transfer Year Experience courses, designed help new students by facilitating a beneficial transition to the university, and teaches these each year.
Prof. Herbst’s academic interests include experiential education, environmental humanities, ancient history, world wisdom traditions, early Christianity, Byzantium, disability, and writing pedagogy. Beyond the university, he leads a writing program for students in secondary education, coordinates outdoor activities for a student-serving community-based organization, reviews NEH proposals for teacher seminars and institutes, and offers trainings for teachers in secondary education. Previously, he was a school board member, a director for NEH Summer Institutes for teachers, and a content expert for the CA Dept. of Education’s review of social studies curricula.
As a professor, he has received an assortment of awards, including Outstanding Faculty (2009), Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching (2015), Excellence in Diversity (2017), and a Changemaker Faculty Fellowship (2020-2022). Active in campus service, Dr. Herbst is a faculty leadership mentor, and serves on committees addressing disability (since 2010), undergraduate education (since 2015), international education (since 2020), undergraduate writing (since 2021), and remote instruction (2022). His previous service includes Public Service (chair, 2018-2020), Preparatory Education (chair, 2018-19), Educational Policy (chair, 2016-17), the Burke Lectureship on Religion and Society (chair, 2015-19), and the planning of Eighth College (2020-2021).
On the personal side: Dr. Herbst is the grandson of an immigrant from South America, who married a sanitation worker from Queens, NY, who was himself the son of Irish immigrants. Prof. Herbst is the child of an Air Force veteran from East Harlem and a Queens native, who wedded as teens. He is married to a first-generation American whose parents emigrated from the Philippines and worked for (and retired from) the US Navy and VA Hospital system, respectively. Before pursuing an academic career, Prof. Herbst explored a variety of fields, including National Park Service, law enforcement and private investigation, and social services. These days, when not engaged in teaching-related activities, he can be found meandering through mountains and deserts of Southern California, kayaking in San Diego waters, or walking his dogs about town.