Professor of History, Chair, Department of History and SocietyJoined USJ: 2002
Having “lived abroad for good chunks of my life in different countries in Europe,” Kevin Callahan brings a distinct authenticity to his teaching of history. European history — especially focused on Germany and Central Europe — has been an interest of Callahan’s since boyhood. He has since developed interests and expertise in gender and world history and teaches courses in the Honors program. The opportunity to learn, to teach, and to research – creating new knowledge – led Callahan to aspire to be a college professor, and his life’s experiences and achievements continue to respond to that early objective.
Actively Learning History
“Flexible and relevant,” is how Callahan describes his courses, particularly the series of innovative offerings with broad appeal that he has established at USJ. He engages students directly in the learning process, while “making linkages between the past and present.” While content differs in each class, the skills developed in his courses are “the essence of what we’re trying to do – critical thinking, reading, writing, collaboration and a focus on the research process, being able to collect, organize, and synthesize information so students can formulate and support their own views.”
Callahan places a premium on student research and active learning – “doing history,” as he describes it, guiding students through academic discovery. “Working with documents is both challenging and exciting” because students come to realize that “historical knowledge is filtered through perspective and interpretation.” And as perspective and interpretation change over time, so does our view of history and our world.
Callahan couples his work as an educator with being a highly respected scholar and effective administrator, directing the university’s General Education program for five years and now chairing the Department of History and Society. Among other research endeavors, he is co-editor of a book on French national identity and author of a book that examines how pre-World War I European socialism through its demonstration culture expanded democratic citizenship and innovated in modern political communication. For many years, Callahan served as director of the General Education program, devising and implementing assessment activities, setting up faculty development workshops, and overseeing curriculum review and revision. He has long been involved in the Peace History Society, recently serving as president of this national organization.
Ph.D., Indiana University
B.A., Skidmore College