Dr. Thomas C. Henthorn, Wyatt Endowed Professor of Public History
I am extremely humbled to be following a number of successful Wyatt Exploration programs conducted by my colleagues here at the University of Michigan-Flint. Under the expert guidance of our faculty in the Department of History students have experienced Japan, Hawaii, Poland, London, Wales, Virginia, and Germany. This year, I am excited to share my passion for urban places in the nation's capital.
Despite being the center of national policy and history, few people in the United States actually have a chance to visit our nation's capital. As a result, I would agree that Washington, D.C. seems like a foreign place - farther than it actually is, and a hub for activity that seems even more distant. When I visited the capital a few years ago with a group of school-aged children, I found that our experince did very little to counter the perception of Washington DC as unreal -- spaces scattered with monuments and legislators, but devoid of authentic people and places that bring urban centers to life.
When I set out to design Wyatt program for 2017-2018, I wanted our students and campus community to experience Washington DC as a real city and not simply highlights of white marble. I sought to combine my interest in urban history and public history and paint a portrait of the District that truly captures the lived experiences of its residents. What is like to work, shop, raise children, and grow old in the nation's seat of history. By exploring Washington as place rich in cultural heritage sites and diving deep into the neighborhoods, it's my hope to impart a diffedrent picture of the capital city than more than the monuments and memorials that often appear in stories about the city.