Matthew T. Herbst is the faculty director of the Making of the Modern World (MMW) general education world history program at the University of California San Diego (Eleanor Roosevelt College). He holds affiliate appointments in History and Classical Studies and also teaches in Environmental Studies.
A proponent of experiential learning, Prof. Herbst serves as faculty co-director of UC San Diego’s Study Abroad and was a Global Seminar inaugural faculty in 2008. He has led ten world history and environmental programs in Asia, Europe, and Oceania, with an eleventh program launching in 2021 (in the High Sierras). He has offered experiential programs in National Parks, in the American Southwest, and in Turkey, and has led 22 environmental humanities seminars in the deserts and mountains of California in partnership with UCSD’s Outback Adventures. On the other end of the teaching spectrum, he is also an advocate of remote instruction and has created fully-online and hybrid courses, including World Wisdom Traditions, Ancient/Medieval World History, and Wilderness & Human Values, and supports faculty with their online course development and pedagogy.
Active in campus service, Prof. Herbst serves on university committees addressing disability (since 2010), undergraduate education (since 2015), international education (since 2020), and the planning of Eighth College (2019-2021); and 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 received various awards for his professional activity, including 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 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 Ph.D. in History at the University of Michigan. To support student success, he served as a founding faculty member of his campus’ college-based First Year Experience & Transfer Year Experience programs, 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 content expert for the California Department of Education’s review of new world history curricula, and a director for NEH Summer Institutes for teachers.
On the personal side: From Queens, New York and the Hudson Valley, 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 a middle-school secretary, 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, and social services. In days gone by, he was a high school wrestler, college boxer, and avid runner, and now spends time kayaking in San Diego waters and meandering about mountains and deserts of Southern California.