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, and Affiliated Faculty in the Department of History. 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 (2008-2019) in Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, Turkey), Europe (England, France, Italy, Turkey), and Oceania (New Zealand, Australia), as well as service-learning programs in Turkey and on the Navajo Reservation. Since 2012, he has also led 19 humanities seminars in the deserts and mountains of California. In addition, he was 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 freshmen 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, as a proposal reviewer for National Endowment for the Humanities Seminars and Institutes for teachers, and offers world history teacher trainings. He also co-leads an educational enhancement program for refugee high school students. Prof. Herbst is developing grant-funded online humanities courses, and is currently working on a study of 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 is board chair of the Burke lectureship on religion and society (2015-2019) and chairs university committees on Preparatory Education (AY2018-19), Public Service (AY2018-19), and formerly Educational Policy. Prof. Herbst has received multiple awards for his professional activity, including a 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 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, and is the brother of an immigrant from Korea. 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 retired from the US Navy and the Veterans Administration Hospital San Diego. 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.
Courses. World History: Pre-History and Ancient Foundations, Classical and Medieval Traditions 100BCE – 1200, New Ideas and Cultural Encounters 1200-1750, Revolution, Industry, Empire 1750-1914, Ancient and Medieval World History. Other History: Wilderness & Human Values, Byzantine Empire, Constantinople, the Mystical Tradition. Seminars: Refugee World, Disability and Human Rights, God-Satan-& the Desert (Wilderness Seminar), Sacred Mountain (Wilderness Seminar), First Year Experience, Graduate and Undergraduate TA training seminars.