A rare document exhibit featuring historical gems such as the Emancipation Proclamation, the Federalist Papers and the Magna Carta is rolling into West Virginia University on Sunday (Aug. 24).
The Center for Democracy and Citizenship Education’s “Touching History” program will be open to the public at the WVU Erickson Alumni Center, Nutting Gallery Room. The program is a rare document exhibit from The Remnant Trust, a public foundation that shares some of history’s most important works on the topics of liberty, human rights and democracy.
Center Director Robert Waterson, an associate professor of curriculum and instruction/literacy studies in the College of Education and Human Services, led an effort with faculty to bring the exhibit to campus.
For Waterson, who has dedicated his life to social studies, bringing the collection to WVU makes sense. His research, as well as his experiences, has led him to believe that in-depth civics education is one of the ways students become good citizens. The documents on display in the Touching History exhibit are the foundations for what many students are taught today, he said.
Waterson’s passion for social studies, particularly civics, stems from a childhood spent as a transient student bouncing from school to school as his father took on different jobs. He became enamored with the history of the United States and the ideals that formed it. He wanted to know where those ideals stemmed from and set out to study them.
“It wasn’t until I was taking undergraduate courses that I realized many of [Thomas] Jefferson’s ideals were coined from Montesquieu, Locke, and documents like the Magna Carta,” said Waterson. “It’s critical that we do appreciate what we know and how it happened, and to look to our heritage, these ideals that we’ve been taught, when we act. That’s where the gap in education is? who came up with these ideals?”
While many of history’s most valued documents are closed in vaults, held behind bullet-proof glass or held in private collections only available to a few, those who attend the Touching History exhibit will be able to see and touch the documents on display. They will hear presentations on why and how these documents came to be, and the changes they created. The exhibit will close Sept. 18.
Touching History is just one of the many projects the Center for Democracy and Citizenship Education has taken on to actively engage students and teachers alike in civics education, hoping to fuel the desire to teach and learn about the heritage behind the ideals people identify with today. The complete program for the Touching History exhibit may be found at: http://issuu.com/edhs/docs/final_touchinghistorybooklet
CONTACT: Christie Zachary, College of Education and Human Services
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