History Summer Institute Initiative

The Department received a three-year (2022-2025) grant from the Gender Equity Initiative at the Provost’s office in 2021 with the goal of helping students, mainly from the region, prepare their applications for graduate school and develop their research skills.

HSI aims to mentor historically under-represented students for PhD admission who are (i) the first in their family to attend college; (ii) have, either as a result of their socio-economic background, status as a member of an historically underrepresented group, or challenging life experiences, overcome substantial obstacles on their journey to college; (iii) have lived or worked in a diverse environment; and/or (iv) have, through the undergraduate education or work experience, demonstrated a commitment to serving historically underprivileged populations or demonstrated a commitment to the academic study of historically underrepresented populations.

The program is run in collaboration with GSAS’s Summer Research Program team, led by Afiya Wilson and Celina Chatman Nelson, and the Leadership Alliance. Prospective students should apply for the Summer Research Program using the Leadership Alliance application. The application opens on November 1st and close on February 1st. 

The History Summer Institute (HSI) consists of thematic history seminars to introduce students to the experience of rigorous graduate-level training. It will also include a series of workshops focusing on pathways to Ph.D. applications in the Social Sciences, especially History, and covering application materials (writing sample, statement, etc.). Each of the student participants in the HSI will be paired with faculty who can provide mentorship on their research interests and pathways through the admission processes.

Between early June and early August, a group of students will come to Columbia. They will be
hosted by GSAS which will also organize other activities. The following is a general description
based on last year’s experience:
1. Group sessions of one and a half hours in which faculty members meet with the group every other week. These workshops are intended to expose students to rigorous graduate-level training on topics to be determined by faculty. A sample of themes used last year includes the history of decolonization, US foreign policy, sports and race, the medieval world, histories of Africa and South Asia, and history in the public sphere. These can change according to the interests of instructors.

2. Individual meetings between History faculty and students. These meetings will pair faculty and students according to their themes and interests and will provide mentorship on their research interests and the graduate admissions process. We expect to have two students per faculty member.

3. Presentations by selected speakers: Last year we invited graduate students and other
affiliates to discuss various research topics.

4. Advice and mentorship from one current history graduate student throughout the
program. This student will be in charge of the workshops described above, meet with
students to follow their progress, and coordinate the academic aspects of the program
(schedules, classrooms, etc.).

Starting in Summer 2024, we are partnering with CUNY’s City College New York (CCNY) to encourage student applications. We are extremely delighted with the support of Dean Andrew Rich, Dean Renata Miller, Prof Anne Kornhauser, and other colleagues across CCNY. The aim is to encourage CCNY students who are interested in, or planning to, apply for PhDs in History or allied fields. The HSI-CCNY effort is led by Prof. David K. Rosner.