Interview with Public Fellow David McIntosh on Interning with the EVC’s Office

Interview with Public Fellow David McIntosh on Interning with the EVC’s Office

April 15, 2021

David McIntosh is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History, where he studies comparative race and ethnicity as well as the history of science. As an IHC Public Humanities Graduate Fellow, McIntosh interned with the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor (EVC) at UC Santa Barbara.

Tell us about the organizing goal of your internship related to the humanities at UCSB. 

The goal of my internship was to increase in advance access to and awareness of the humanities and humanities-related courses at UCSB. This initiative focused not merely on highlighting the humanities but also finding ways to demonstrate its values to students of non-humanities disciplines as well as the broader public.

What projects did you work on?

I worked on two distinct projects. Project one consisted of two steps, the first being the examination of UCSB’s catalog system and the history of how the catalog has evolved over time. Step two focused on future iterations of the catalog, including the evaluation of current catalog software offerings, and how they could be leveraged to raise awareness of humanities courses and degrees. Project two focused on the creation of humanities-centric online courses dedicated to the environment, social justice, and technology. These courses were designed to offer a humanist perspective on broad social issues.

What did you learn about academic administration?

During my time with the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor, I learned about both the opportunities and limitations that accompany working under executive administration. Due to the time constraints of the executive schedule, my work was given an immense amount of freedom to explore ways of achieving the internship goals. This flexibility and autonomy provided wide latitude in my tasks but was not without challenges. While many decisions regarding my project were easily made, others required some time before the project‘s oversight could weigh in.

How was this work similar to or different from your teaching and research as a graduate student in History?

In terms of both my teaching and research, this project required me to gain a higher level perspective of undergraduate education and research at UCSB.  I was compelled to explore the humanities outside the discipline of history in order to gain a firmer understanding of what characteristics the humanities disciplines share in common, as well as how they differ. Although I consider my scholarly research interdisciplinary, never before had I taken such a broad approach to understanding the humanities role in addressing social issues. On the other hand, much like my teaching and research, my time on this internship was spent extremely independently with little supervision.

How has your participation in the Public Humanities Graduate Fellow Program influenced your understanding of public humanities or plans for future publicly engaged work?

The program definitely cemented my belief in Paulo Freire’s assertion that all education is political action in some manner. This claim should be central to all humanities work conducted, whether in the public or in academia. The perspective that the humanities lends to social issues and crises is an invaluable one that requires the work of humanists everywhere.

Click here to learn more about the IHC Public Humanities Graduate Fellows Program.