The Way of Improvement Leads Home: American History, Religion, Politics, and Academic life.

A Society, Culture and History podcast
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The liberal arts vs. STEM. A degree in the humanities vs. a degree in business. The current conversation around higher education consistently pits the study of history, philosophy, or English against more “practical” pursuits like engineering or computer science. But both data and the insights of business leaders tell us that this is a false dichotomy. Host John Fea and producer Drew Dyrli Hermeling discuss the value of the liberal arts within both the current economic and political climate. They are joined by venture capitalist Scott Hartley (@scottehartley), author of The Fuzzy and the Techie: Why the Liberal Arts will Rule the Digital World. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Host John Fea and producer Drew Dyrli Hermeling tackle presidential politics in this, their third episode. John discusses the “usable pasts” employed by candidates on both sides of the aisle. Later Fea and Hermeling are joined by Yoni Appelbaum, the Washington Bureau Chief for the Atlantic, to further discuss the role of historical thinking within politics. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Host John Fea and producer Drew Dyrli Hermeling are back and ready for season 2. In this episode, they tackle the issue of historical reenacting. Is it just another kind of historical thinking? Or is it something different? They are joined first by “Thomas Jefferson” who discusses the current state of his 1800 campaign for the presidency. He is followed by Steve Edenbo, a professional “actor-historian” who portrays Thomas Jefferson. Edenbo discusses the process of researching and embodying such a famous historical figure along with the state of his profession in a post-“Hamiltonian” world. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Two weeks ago, we discussed the Civil War. But the Civil War didn’t just occur spontaneously. Instead, it was a reaction to many larger political currents that had their roots in the very foundation of the United States. One such current was abolitionism. Host John Fea and producer Drew Dyrli Hermeling discuss this issue and connect it to John’s own work on the American Bible Society. They are joined by the highly decorated historian Manisha Sinha (@ProfMSinha), who has just released The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home, we have traveled to both Mount Vernon and Monticello in our explorations of presidential history. Today, we explore a much more recent addition to the world of presidential real estate, Mar-a-Lago. While host John Fea explores the history of presidential vacations, guest Julian Chambliss (@JulianChambliss), historian and author of the Boston Review article “Draining the Swamp,” dives deeper into Mar-a-Lago as a lens for understanding Florida’s unique history, the disproportionate effects of climate change, and the origin of Trump’s unique and at times inscrutable blend of everyman populism and billionaire branding. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from TWOILH Podcast! Over the past year we have worked hard at bringing you two seasons (16 episodes!) of The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast. I hope you have enjoyed our work.  We have interviewed award-winning historians, history educators, journalists, and even a former president of the United States. As the podcast enters its third season, we need your help. If you love history and want to hear more discussions about history and historical thinking with people like Annette Gordon-Reed, Ann Little, Peter Onuf, Rebecca Onion, Manisha Sinha, Sam Wineburg, Yoni Appelbaum, and Jonathan Fetter-Vorm, we kindly ask that you consider becoming a regular supporter of the podcast. We are launching a Patreon campaign complete with gifts from GearHungry for various pledge tiers. So head over and give what you can in support of historical thinking! We look forward to continuing to bring you high quality historical analysis with some of the most exciting thinkers today! We wish you Happy Holidays and a Merry Christmas from all of us who bring you this podcast.  And may your way of improvement always lead home! Learn more about our pledge drive by downloading this special episode: https://thewayofimprovement.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/twoilh-fundraising.mp3  
What do Tim Tebow and Colin Kaepernick have in common? Besides being NFL quarterbacks, they're both famous kneelers. Yet their actions have been interpreted by sports fans and American Christians in very different ways. In today's episode, we explore the deep historical connections between sports and Christianity. Host John Fea looks into what colonial New England's Puritans thought about sports. They are joined by Messiah historian Paul Putz, who discusses his work on the unique melding of sports and religion, "sportianity."  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
With so many contemporary examples of racism in American society, it is tempting to see these as the actions of racist individuals. However, many social critics have increasingly pointed to the structure and system of racism as an active part of American society today, and the Church is no different. Host John Fea and producer Drew Dyrli Hermeling are joined by Jemar Tisby (@JemarTisby), the president of the The Witness, a Black Christian Collective,  host of the podcast Pass the Mic, and the author of the new book, The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism.Sponsored by the Lyndhurst Group (lyndhurstgroup.org) and Jennings College Consulting (drj4college.com). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
On May 4, 2017, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act, the first step towards fulfilling the GOP’s promise of “repealing and replacing” the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. But already what used to be a winning issue for Republicans appears to be turning against them. This is but the latest shift in a rich history of healthcare in America. Host John Fea and producer Drew Dyrli Hermeling tackle this politically-charged issue. They are joined by historian Nancy Tomes who just collected one of historical scholarship’s highest honors, the Bancroft Prize, for her book Remaking the American Patient: How Madison Avenue and Modern Medicine Turned Patients into Consumers, out now with the University of North Carolina Press. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Host John Fea and producer Drew Dyrli Hermeling discuss the many ways in which they have encountered the past, especially within the realm of public history and historical preservation. They are joined by the Director of Education at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum, Tim Grove, who shares his experiences with mail order grizzly bears and Chinese restrictions on printing historical maps. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Host John Fea and producer Drew Dyrli Hermeling talk about teaching historical thinking to K-12 students.  They discuss pedagogy, the Common Core, and the role of history in a STEM-focused educational climate. Their guest is Sam Wineburg, professor of education at Stanford University and author of Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts.  Wineburg shares his impassioned opinions on history education. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In Episode 8 of The Way of Improvement Leads Home podcast John Fea and Drew Dyrli Hermeling talk about the complex life and legacy of Thomas Jefferson. Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Annette Gordon-Reed and Jefferson scholar Peter Onuf talk with John about their new book, The Most Blessed of Patriarchs: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Host John Fea and producer Drew Dyrli Hermeling have returned to their classrooms for another semester of college teaching. What better time to once again explore the importance of pedagogy? John discusses issues surrounding secondary history standards and the way we train our teachers. They are joined by “The Tattooed Prof” Kevin Gannon (@TheTattooedProf) who unpacks his own “Teaching Manifesto.” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Here at the podcast, we have often engaged with our collective love of popular music and the history embedded within that love. Host John Fea regularly cites New Jersey state treasure Bruce Springsteen and producer Drew Dyrli Hermeling channels his experience in garage bands every time he produces an episode. It is therefore fitting that they close out the season with guest Bob Crawford (@BobCrawfordBass) of the wildly popular The Avett Brothers (@TheAvettBros).Sponsored by the Lyndhurst Group (lyndhurstgroup.org) and Jennings College Consulting (drj4college.com). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Perhaps there is no story more important to the United States than that of our Civil War. It is no surprise then that historians continue to find new things to say about the conflict. Host John Fea and producer Drew Dyrli Hermeling discuss such things as living in the shadow of Gettysburg, the war’s most famous battle, teaching the Civil War, and the continued applicability of Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address. They are joined by the graphic historian Jonathan Fetter-Vorm (@fetter_vorm) who illustrated and co-wrote Battle Lines: A Graphic History of the Civil War.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
When people think of the melding of faith and business, companies like Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-A usually come to mind. However, like all things, the history of this type of partnership has a deeper history. Host John Fea reaches into early America to discuss the complicated integration of faith and business among Philadelphia's Quakers. They are joined by historian Nicole Kirk, author of Wanamaker's Temple: The Business of Religion in an Iconic Department Store. Sponsored by the Lyndhurst Group (lyndhurstgroup.org) and Jennings College Consulting (drj4college.com). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Host John Fea and producer Drew Dyrli Hermeling discuss America’s national pastime. That’s right–it’s The Way of Improvement Leads Home podcast’s first annual baseball episode!  John and Drew talk about the marketability of nostalgia, the youthful dreams of a World Series for the home team, and the way sports turn even the most critical historian into an uncritical fan. They are joined by espn.com uniform expert, Paul Lukas. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Don't be confused by the title, we are not talking about the spooky family from the 1960s. Rather, in this episode, we turn to the religious history of one of America's founding families. By focusing on the Adams family, one can trace the evolution of American religion as John, Abigail, JQA, and others wrestle with Providence, the Enlightenment, and a changing political landscape. Host John Fea and producer Drew Dyrli Hermeling are joined by Sara Georgini (@sarageorgini), the author of Household Gods: The Religious Lives of the Adams Family. Sponsored by the Lyndhurst Group (lyndhurstgroup.org) and Jennings College Consulting (drj4college.com). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Are you watching Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial? Are you trying to make sense of it all? We want to help. In this episode we talk with CNN presidential historian and Southern Methodist University professor Jeffrey Engel on the history of impeachment. Engel sheds light on the debates over impeachment in the Constitutional Convention, the historic meaning of "bribery" and "high crimes and misdemeanors," and the inevitable political and partisan nature of American impeachments. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The word “evangelical” has a number of meanings and connotations. However, in the current political and social climate, people are most likely to hear the word in association with politics. In this context, it is often synonymous with the Christian Right. Host John Fea and producer Drew Dyrli Hermeling unpack this term further, especially as it pertains to the “Age of Trump.” They are joined by Pulitzer, Bancroft, and National Book Award-winner Frances FitzGerald, who discusses her newest National Book Award-nominated book, The Evangelicals.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
One of the most enduring phrases at the heart of American exceptionalism is John Winthrop's famous proclamation that the Puritan colonists were establishing a "city upon a hill." But the story of this lay sermon is much more complicated, and, according to Bancroft-winning historian Daniel Rogers, Winthrop was not being triumphalist, but instead a statement of anxiety. Dr. Rogers joins us to discuss his new book on the sermon and its endurance, As a City on a Hill. Sponsored by the Lyndhurst Group (lyndhurstgroup.org) and Jennings College Consulting (drj4college.com). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Did you watch "The Last Dance," the ESPN documentary on Michael Jordan and the 1990s Chicago Bulls? In this episode of the podcast, Baylor University sports historian Paul Putz helps us make sense of it. Join us for a conversation about Jordan's place in NBA history, the role of the black athlete in American culture, and some thoughts on how the stories of athletes like Jordan provide a window into our own identities as human beings. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
If our mailbox in the wake of the death of George Floyd is any indication, many listeners of this podcast and readers of The Way of Improvement Leads Home blog are making honest efforts to understand the meaning of phrases like “systemic racism” and “white privilege.” Can racism in America be solved by a simple change of individual character? Or does it require much deeper shifts in the ways we order our collective lives? In this episode, we will think through these issues with Dr. Scott Hancock, a professor of African-American history and Africana Studies at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
What does it mean to be a man in white evangelical Christianity? In this episode we talk with historian Kristin Kobes Du Mez, author of Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation. We discuss definitions of masculinity, the Gospel Coalition, Beth Moore, Donald Trump, the 2016 election, the differences between White and Black views of Christian manhood, and how the thesis of her book might be applied to American evangelical culture during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
On May 21, 2018, the Office of the Provost at Messiah College surprised the faculty at their annual Educator's Day with a live recording of our podcast. Under the theme "Flourishing in a Digital World," the goal was to highlight the ways in which Messiah faculty have been using digital tools within their own scholarship. In that spirit, we interviewed history professor and lead architect of the Digital Harrisburg project, David Pettegrew; English professor and director of the Center for Public Humanities, Jean Corey; and  film and digital media professor, Nathan Skulstad. The episode also features an interview of our regular host, John Fea, conducted by the director of the Agape Center, Ashley Sheaffer. Finally, special thanks also go out to the director of the Ernest L. Boyer Center, Cynthia Wells for organizing and co-producing the event.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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Podcast Details

Started
Dec 30th, 2015
Latest Episode
Mar 29th, 2020
Release Period
Weekly
No. of Episodes
72
Avg. Episode Length
About 1 hour
Explicit
No
Order
Episodic

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