Matthew T. Herbst is a professor at the University of California San Diego, serving as director of the Making of the Modern World (MMW) at Eleanor Roosevelt College and faculty co-director of Study Abroad. He also teaches in Environmental Studies and has affiliate appointments in History and Classics. A proponent of experiential learning, Prof. Herbst was an inaugural faculty member of UC San Diego’s Global Seminars in 2008. He has led ten world history and environmental programs in Asia, Europe, and Oceania, with an eleventh program upcoming in 2022. He has offered other programs in the American Southwest and in Turkey, and has led 22 environmental humanities seminars in the California wilderness in partnership with UCSD’s Outback Adventures.
Active in campus service, Prof. Herbst is a Faculty Leadership Mentor (2021-2022) and serves on university committees addressing disability (since 2010), undergraduate education (since 2015), international education (since 2020), and the planning of UC San Diego’s next undergraduate college (2020-2021); and was 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 created academic and co-curricular undergraduate projects working with community-based organizations and has received an assortment of awards for teaching and professional activity. These include: 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 were influenced by his experience in public education, 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 was a founding faculty member of the college-based First Year Experience & Transfer Year Experience courses, 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 director for NEH Summer Institutes for teachers, and a content expert for the CA Department of Education’s review of new history curricula.
On the personal side: Dr. Herbst and 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 Queens, who was himself the son of Irish immigrants. Prof. Herbst is the child of a Vietnam War-era veteran from East Harlem and Queens native, 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, religious ministry, and social services. In days gone by, he was a high school wrestler, college boxer, and avid runner, and can now be found kayaking in San Diego waters, meandering through mountains and deserts of Southern California, or walking his dogs about town.