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I earned my Ph.D. from Ohio State University with a concentration in the history of American Foreign Relations in 2004 and joined the CCSU history faculty that year. I became chair of the department in 2018. The Introduction to our 2018-2019 Annual Report is available here.
I recently helped to bring the final piece of scholarship of the late Dr. Lawrence Gelfand of the University of Iowa to print. McFarland published The United States and the Rise of Tyrants: Diplomatic Relations with Nationalist Dictatorships Between the World Wars in October 2019. The University of Wisconsin Press published Understanding and Teaching the Vietnam War, which I coedited with Brad Austin and Matthew Masur, in 2013. The book helps teachers at all levels navigate through cultural touchstones, myths, political debates, and the myriad trouble spots enmeshed within the national memory of one of the most significant eras in American history. My first book, Ireland and Irish Americans, 1932-1945: The Search for Identity, which grew in part out of my research as a Visiting Fellow at the Clinton Institute for American Studies at University College Dublin, came out in 2010. My long-term research interest is a book that examines the effects of Robert F. Kennedy’s foreign travel on his domestic policy positions.
Understanding and Teaching the Vietnam War was the first book in the Harvey Goldberg Series for Understanding and Teaching History, published by the University of Wisconsin Press. I coedit the Series with Brad and Matt. Books in the Harvey Goldberg Series give college and secondary history instructors a deeper understanding of the past as well as the tools to help them teach it creatively and effectively. Each volume focuses on a specific historical topic and offers a wealth of content and resources, providing concrete examples of how teachers can approach the subject in the classroom. Other books in the Series:
Understanding and Teaching . . .
Future topics currently under contract include volumes on the Holocaust, Native American History, and Religion in American History.
In 2009, I won both the Connecticut State University Board of Trustees Teaching Award for CCSU and the CSU System-Level Trustees Teaching Award, becoming the first CSU system teaching award winner at the university. I have been the Academic Director for two U.S. Department of Education “Teaching American History” grants at Central. I also served as the Director of Secondary Education for the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations and as one of Connecticut’s representatives to the Social Studies Assessment, Curriculum, and Instruction collaborative.
Advocacy for social studies and an active service agenda at Central are very important to me. I have been the Vice President and President of the Connecticut Council for the Social Studies, and served as the chair of its Public Policy Committee. I am very proud that the Board selected me for the organization’s “Service to Social Studies” and “Lou Addazio” awards. I was an academic consultant to the state’s Social Studies Framework Drafting Committee and a member of the Connecticut Coalition for History. At the university level, I have chaired or co-chaired the Academic Freedom Committee, the Student Affairs Committee, and the University Athletics Board, as well as having served on a variety of other university and department committees.
I have given talks in Ireland and Poland and presented conference papers at national meetings of the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, the National Council for the Social Studies, the American Conference for Irish Studies, and many others.