Matthew T. Herbst is the faculty director of the Making of the Modern World general education world history program at the University of California San Diego (Eleanor Roosevelt College). He is a teaching professor and affiliated faculty in the Department of History and Classical Studies Program and also teaches in Environmental Studies.
A proponent of experiential learning, Prof. Herbst was an inaugural faculty member of the university’s Global Seminars in 2008 and has led eleven world history programs in Asia, Europe, and Oceania, and six experiential-learning programs in Turkey, on the Navajo Reservation, on Catalina Island, and in National Parks of CA. In addition, since 2012 he has led more than twenty environmental humanities seminars in the deserts and mountains of Southern California in partnership with UCSD’s Outback Adventures. He was also a founding faculty member of the college-based First Year Experience program in 2014, 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, 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 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 California Department of Education’s review of new world history curricula, as a Summer Institute director and proposal reviewer for National Endowment for the Humanities Seminars and Institutes, offers world history teacher trainings, and co-leads an educational enhancement program for historically under-represented high school students. Prof. Herbst is currently developing online humanities courses, a history youtube channel, and studying the age of Justinian.
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). Dr. 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 attend 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, who married as teenagers, and is himself 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.