My Approach

I specialize in United States history and have taught courses ranging from early American surveys to specialized courses on U.S. brewing history, the American West, and travel history. I am experienced in both online and traditional settings.

With every course, I work to make studying the past a beneficial, relevant, and empowering exercise for every student. I accomplish this via three main emphases: writing instruction, participatory exercises, and open-concept assignments.

History-focused writing instruction. I use my teaching as an opportunity to develop individual writing skills. Students write early and often in my courses. Each assignment builds incrementally off the last using a basic argument-evidence model which highlights the adaptability of historical analysis. Most importantly, I make writing a reflective process through preliminary argument exercises, multiple drafts, peer review, or collaborative group writing. My goal is to help students regard their writing as a creative and non-linear journey, that editing and collaboration are powerful tools, and that they do not need to get it perfect the first time.

Participation. In every course I teach, participatory exercises constitute at least 25% of the grade. I happily accommodate different student abilities and comfort levels, and work to foster course discussions that every student can participate in. These discussions typically revolve around primary source reading assignments, and in online settings rely on digital platforms such as WebEx and VoiceThread. Currently, I am developing a weekly “scavenger hunt” activity where students are posed a research question, examine selected primary sources for relevant evidence, and finally collaborate to create a historical argument in response.

Open-concept assignments.  During graduate school, I took the advice of a colleague and asked students to design their own final project. I never looked back, and have found that students demonstrate immense creativity and engagement when allowed to connect with course material on their own terms. In upper-level courses, I invite students to not only choose their topic but also their medium. Past projects have yielded brewery designs, paintings, websites, and travel brochures, each exploring course concepts in distinct and unanticipated ways. Through such exercises, I believe, students not only identify historical connections but also feel empowered to adapt history to their own interests, audiences, and goals.

Courses Taught

  • United States History to 1877 (100-level)
  • History of the American West (300-level)
  • Brewing & the American Experience (300-level)
  • The Traveler’s Gaze (300-level)

***syllabi available upon request. Please contact me at bmalberts@gmail.com

Also, I once delivered a lecture as Abraham Lincoln on Halloween.