How do I introduce Miami history into my classroom?

How do I introduce Miami history into my classroom?

Every commencement, Miami students, alumni, and faculty stand and sing the alma mater: “Old Miami! New Miami! Days of old and days to be; weave the story of thy glory, Our Miami, here’s to thee!” Yet, how many know the history of this song? What is this glory? Who determines it? Do those singing know that it was written by Alfred Upham who likely was also responsible for an emphasis on Native American mascots and imagery? Do they know that additional verses, solicited from alumni, students, faculty, and staff, were added in 1989 to address the inequities of Upham’s original lyrics? Does it matter if they do?

Our work in the Faculty Learning Community (FLC) “Weave the Story” began with answering, “Yes,” to that final question.

We believe that students and faculty alike – no matter their major, minor, or division – will benefit from an encounter with Miami’s institutional and community history. By encountering Miami’s history within a classroom, students in engineering, business, healthcare, English, economics, biology, political science, global studies, foreign languages, education, comparative religion, art history, political science, social work – and many, many more majors – will develop the ability to think critically about the world around them and the forces shaping it.

We realize, however, that for many of our colleagues this work might seem intimidating. This guide is meant to help.


Start with what you already teach – Think about your planned lectures, slides, and other materials. Are there places where you might have a conversation on ethics? On the history of the field? A historical question? On architecture? Experiments? Will you engage in intercultural perspective-taking? Conversations on diversity? Perhaps you’re leading a study abroad program? Open yourself to the possibility of bringing new insights into your classroom.

Develop keywords – Just as you would with a research database, develop a few key words, search terms, or search phrases. You might want to keep these general: “Physics,” “Religion,” “Economics,” for example.

Reach out for help if needed! – If you’ve made it this far your interested, but if you find you want to brainstorm with someone, please reach out to Nathan French ( or Annie Dell’Aria ( – they’ll be happy to help. Your subject librarian might also be of considerable assistance.

Turn to the University’s Digital Collections – Miami University’s Walter Havighurst Special Collections maintain Digital Collections that are searchable. Familiarize yourself with the materials – the Miami Student collection is popular – and test a few of your search terms. What do you find? Refine your search and try again. The collections are extensive – they preserve not only newspapers, but Board of Trustees minutes, personal and historical interviews, and highlighted materials.

Turn to the University’s Print Materials – King Library also maintains an extensive set of print materials that our participants found helpful. These included:

There are also extensive collections of letters as well as histories of local buildings, houses, and cemeteries.

Identify Materials – These might include images, articles, chapters, or other items you could use in your course. Think about how students might use these – will they be used in discussion? As part of research exercises? Evidence for an essay or other report?

Develop Learning Outcomes – What will students learn from these materials? What will they understand? Apply? Analyze? Evaluate? Or create?