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), and affiliated faculty in History, Classical Studies, and the Center for Hellenic Studies, 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. He has led eleven world history programs in Asia, Europe, and Oceania, among the 38 MMW programs abroad, which have been offered on every continent except Antarctica. He also leads experiential-learning programs in National Parks and previously on the Navajo Reservation and in Turkey. 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. In 2014, Prof. Herbst was a founding faculty member of the college-based First Year & Transfer Year Experience programs, designed to facilitate successful student transition to the university, and teaches these courses each year. His current projects include the creation of a new online ‘wisdom of the world’ course, studies on environmental history in the context of pre-modern world history, and a work of historical fiction.
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 for teachers in Istanbul, and a proposal reviewer for NEH Seminars and Institutes; and he offers regular world history teacher trainings.
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 also Associate Faculty Director of Study Abroad (2013-2015). Dr. Herbst has received multiple awards for his professional activity, 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 War-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 religious ministry. In days gone by, he was a high school wrestler, college boxer, and avid runner, and now spends his time meandering through mountains, deserts, and canyons of Southern California.