Bio

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with the Dalai Lama, UC San Diego

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), and affiliated faculty in the Department of History and Classical Studies Program, and 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 11 world history programs in Asia, Europe, and Oceania, as well as multiple other experiential-learning programs in Turkey, on the Navajo Reservation, and in the National Parks of CA.  In addition, since 2012 he has offered 22 environmental humanities seminars in the deserts and mountains of Southern California in partnership with UCSD’s Outback Adventures.  Prof. Herbst was also a founding faculty member of the college-based First Year Experience and Transfer Year Experience programs, designed to facilitate successful student transition to the university, and teaches these courses each year.   Among his current academic projects are digital efforts, including creating a second online world history course and an environmental-world history channel, and studies on environmental and Byzantine history in the context of world history. 

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Hovering out to sea: Visiting USS Gabrielle Giffords

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.   Interested in 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 director for two world history Institutes abroad for teachers, and a proposal reviewer for NEH Seminars and Institutes; he also offers regular world history teacher trainings and co-leads an educational enhancement program for high school students.   

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with students, Rome

Active in campus service, Prof. Herbst serves on UCSD committees addressing disability (since 2010) and undergraduate education (since 2015).  He is chair of the Public Service committee (2018-2020) and was formerly chair of Preparatory Education (2018-19), Educational Policy (2016-17), and the Burke Lectureship on Religion and Society (2015-19), and Associate Faculty Director of Study Abroad (2013-2015).  Dr. Herbst has received multiple awards, including Outstanding Faculty, Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching, and an 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 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 San Diego’s VA Hospital, respectively.  Before pursuing an academic career, Dr. Herbst explored a variety of fields, including National Park Service, law enforcement and private investigation, social services, and even religious ministry.  In days gone by, he was a high school wrestler, college boxer, and avid runner, and now meanders through mountains, deserts, and canyons of Southern California.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. tony sensoli says:

    Matt,
    I am glad “college boxer” made your bio. You were one of the best ever from the University of Michigan Boxing Club.
    Tony

    1. ucsdherbst says:

      Dr. Tony! So good to hear from you. How are you and the family?
      Whatever I know of boxing — I learned from you. I hope that we can talk soon to catch up.

  2. Louis Cohen says:

    Thank you for your interesting talk about Istanbul today at the San Diego Museum of Art. I have a few follow-up questions:

    – Can we assume that the traces of Mohammed found by Mehmet II just outside Constantinople are bogus, or is there any archeological/historical evidence to suggest that the prophet was actually there? It reminds me of the stories in the book of Mormon about fantasy peoples of the early Americas and Jesus’ visit to North America.

    – Is modern Turkish ultimately derived from the turkic languages of Central Asia, and not the other way around?

    – By the 19th century, the Ottoman Empire was notorious for corruption; one bought a position in government service and paid a percentage of the graft up the ladder (not unlike the world of The Sopranos). Was it always like this, or when did it start to slide?

    BTW, “The Ionian Mission” by Patrick O’Brian is a modern historical novel set during the Napoleonic wars that deals with a (fictional) attempt by the British to find and support a reliable ally in the Ionian Sea. Part of the intrigue revolves around whether a local coup will create a fait accompli before the Sultan (referred to as the Sublime Porte) can issue a firman naming the new governor.

    The town of Marino, Italy has a festival every year to celebrate their boys coming home from the Battle of Lepanto. The fact that wine and roast pork sandwiches are served celebrating the defeat of the Muslim navy is probably a coincidence.

    1. ucsdherbst says:

      You are welcome. I enjoy that venue very much. A few comments to your questions:
      1. The relics that Mehmet found at Eyüp, just outside the walls of Constantinople, were not of Muhammad but of one of his companions, Ayyub al-Ansari who, according to tradition, died in the 7th century Arab siege of Constantinople.
      2. Yes, Turkish has its origins in Central Asia. The Turks were originally central Asian nomads which explains why Turkic languages are spoken from China (the language of the Uighurs) all the way to Europe (Turkey). These languages are related but not the same, like those in the Romance Language family (Spanish, Italian, Romanian, etc.).
      3. The Ottoman empire of the classical period (to 1600), which was the topic of my talk, was highly efficient, particularly in contrast to various large western kingdoms in the same period. A variety of troubles develop afterwards, however, though some had roots even in the classical period. I expect to present on some of this in a follow up talk in the fall.

  3. Julie Herbst says:

    UCSD Diversity Award recipient! Congratulations!

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