Professor Cameron Airhart
Professor Cameron Airhart
Author: Marshall Green
Date: April 24, 2014
Categories: History

Houghton College is pleased to announce that Cameron Airhart, professor of history at Houghton College is one of a select group of faculty members nationwide chosen by the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History to participate in a special American history seminar on Chicago.

From a pool of 51 faculty members nominated, 28 faculty members were selected to participate in a weeklong seminar on “The Creation of the Modern American City: Chicago from 1830 to 1910.” The seminar will be held June 16–20, 2014, at the Newberry Library in Chicago, Illinois. In lectures, discussion groups, and field trips, participants will exchange ideas with seminar directors Henry Binford, associate professor of history and urban affairs at Northwestern University, and Carl Smith, Franklyn Bliss Snyder Professor of English and American studies and professor of history, also at Northwestern. The seminar is generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

“Strengthening the teaching of American history at colleges and universities is of critical importance. The number of institutions that nominated faculty members who are active as scholars and teachers of this subject is most impressive,” said CIC President Richard Ekman. “We believe that Airhart will play a strong role in the seminar.”

“As generations of Houghton students know, Cameron's wide-ranging interests, broad learning, and ready wit make him one of the college's most popular lecturers,” said Peter Meilaender, chair of the department of history and department of political science at Houghton.

Meilaender further commented, “His innovative leadership in developing and directing the City Semester program in Buffalo helped put Houghton ahead of the national curve in melding liberal arts learning with internships and field experience, and it has also strengthened the college's linkages to Buffalo, historically one of the nation's leading cities. Cameron's curricular work and his connections with Buffalo's public history and museum communities make him an ideal participant for the CIC seminar.  His participation promises to energize his own teaching, enriching what he can offer Houghton's students both on the main campus and in the city.”

The seminar will use a chronological and topical approach to explore major developments in Chicago’s formative period, when it evolved from a tiny frontier outpost to the nation’s second city and emblem of urban modernity, for better and for worse. Discussions will focus on the built environment of Chicago by examining a series of major human-made structures and institutions that both reflected the larger events and ideas that created them and have left a lasting mark on the cityscape. Participants will discuss the coming of the canal, the railroad and Chicago’s rise to become the transportation center of the nation; the stockyards, the packinghouses and the city’s transition from commercial center to industrial colossus; the place of the Great Fire and the skyscraper revolution in the evolution of the cityscape; the social strife and economic conflict revealed in the Haymarket bombing and the Pullman Strike; the hopes of urban reform expressed by Hull House, the World’s Columbian Exposition and the 1909 Plan of Chicago; and the beginnings of the African-American community that would later be called the “Black Metropolis.”

For more information, visit the CIC website at