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“A museum is a school; The Artist learns to communicate; The public learns to make connections.” –Luis Camnitzer

Apply to History by Design!

History by Design is a program for teachers and students who are interested in diving deeper into social studies, history, and the arts in an experiential learning environment that encourages student voice and multiple perspectives. The program is a year-long after-school club for 15-25 students that meets weekly, and is co-led by a pair of teachers—at least one of whom must be a social studies teacher. 

APPLY NOW before the Wednesday, September 25 deadline is up!

Have questions? Email HistorybyDesign@schools.nyc.gov 

Program Structure

The program is a year-long after-school club for 15-25 students in grades 6-8 that meets weekly, and is co-led by a pair of teachers—at least one of whom must be a social studies teacher. Each club or ‘Curator Crew’ will investigate a topic in history of their choosing through one of four critical lenses. 

  • Art That Inspires Change
  • NYC’s Changing Landscape
  • Evolving Roles of Wo/men
  • What Makes a Leader

In addition to meeting weekly, Curator Crews will take three-four experiential field trips to cultural institutions that will inspire the creation of their end-of-year culminating project, designing an exhibit. All History by Design Curator Crews will create an exhibit based on their research topic, and present their exhibit at the Culminating Exhibition that will take place in May 2020. Participating teachers will attend four professional learning sessions during which they will explore the social studies practices, the process of creating an exhibition, and how to leverage cultural institutions to complement their Curator Crew’s project.

Description of Critical Lenses

Art That Inspires Change

This lens is all about examining art’s role in evoking societal change. Art has played a major role in most social movements from the graffiti art on the Berlin Wall to the hope poster created for Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign. Art has a unique power to change public opinion, get people to think differently/more critically, and inspire them to take action.

  • Sample mediums to explore include: protest posters, graffiti, murals, documentary photography, anti-war songs, banned books, public art, and wearable art (ex: pink hats associated with the Women’s March on Washington)
  • Sample project topics include: The graffiti art of Banksy that calls attention to the greed of capitalism or Keith Herring’s art that brought awareness and attention to the AIDS crisis at a time when it was largely being ignored.

Evolving Roles of Wo/men

Gender roles are constantly changing. How has society responded? How has a change in women’s roles affected the role men play and vice versa?

  • Sample mediums to explore include: historical photos, oral histories, court cases, artifacts, or gender representation in media.
  • Sample project topics include: the women’s suffrage movement, women who have broken down barriers, exclusionary practices, the wage gap, a historical look at gender and sexuality, the history of the LBGTQ movement or the role of government intervention in gender expression.

NYC’s Changing Landscapes

Explore how the people, environment, jobs, transportation, culture, housing, neighborhoods, demographics, food, politics, and/or economy of New York City have changed over time.

  • Sample mediums to explore include: maps, official records, historical photos, oral histories, depictions of life at the time through artworks, and architecture.
  • Sample project topics include: an exploration of the neighborhood your school is located in or a historical look at immigration policies and how it contributes to demographics today.  

What Makes a Leader

How do you define a leader? What are some leadership qualities? Whose voices are we not hearing in history and why? Are there any leaders in your community?

  • Sample mediums to explore include: historical documents, oral histories, paintings, photographs, diaries, and other primary sources.
  • Sample project topics include: Retelling a historical event from the perspective of lesser known leaders, local leaders who have made an impact on the lives of your students, or exploring different types and styles of leadership.

History by Design Flyer

Professional Learning Sessions

Participating teacher-pairs will attend four professional learning sessions that will take place on:

  • Tuesday October 29, 2019
  • Thursday December 19, 2019
  • Thursday January 16, 2020
  • Tuesday March 31, 2020

At each session, teachers will explore topics in social studies, history, and the arts through the social studies practices, the process of creating an exhibition, and how to leverage cultural institutions to complement their Curator Crew’s project. Professional learning days will take place on school days, and the History by Design program will cover the cost of per diem substitute coverage for all teachers in attendance. Participating teachers are eligible to receive up to 40 hours of per session for time spent outside of regular school hours planning for, and facilitating the after-school Curator Crew. Teachers will receive on and off-site support from the History by Design program. Each teacher-pair must attend all four full-day professional learning sessions, schedule at least one site visit with the History by Design program manager, and support their student Curator Crew in creating and presenting a museum exhibit project at the Culminating Exhibition.