Dr. Joseph Adelman

What are you involved with on campus?

“I’m the advisor Phi Alpha Theta which is the history honors society. We organize a career night to show people what they can do with a history degree. We’re bringing a speaker in November. We’ve invited Heather Cox-Richardson who is a historian at Boston College and studies modern American history, particularly politics and economics. She is going to come and talk about the Reconstruction roots of today’s politics. I’m also involved with the Center for Excellence Learning Teaching, Scholarship and Service in l which works on faulty development and trying to think about ways to be better teachers and scholars on campus. Every year, the committee I’m on organizes an event called January Day which is a day for the entire faculty to get together and talk about teaching. A year ago I did a presentation on using social media and blogging in the classroom which is something I’ve been very active in doing in class. It’s about talking how we think about dealing with certain advising questions or just how to run a better discussion set class.”

How did you get interested in history?

“I got interested in history as a little kid when I was first starting to read. The way I remember it was my second grade teacher gave me a book about the American Revolution, of all things, and that set me off on a path that has me sitting here today. That interest then developed as I got into college into a more grown-up set of questions about the origins about the United States and also the ways in which people communicate with one another and how that shapes our view of politics.”

And what made you want to make a career out of it?

“I couldn’t see myself being happy doing anything else. I am deeply passionate and engaged in the projects of engaging and teaching students how to think historically and to apply historical thinking to the present and writing about the past for a present day audience. Those two things are different but in practice are very similar.”

So recently, you made your class do a twitter project to live tweet the Stamp Act.  How did you come up with the idea and why’d you decide to do it?

I’d seen it be done before. A friend of mine who teaches in Illinois did a live tweeting of the funeral procession for his class. And I’ve seen a number of other projects like it. This fall is the 250 anniversary of the protests against the Stamp Act so it was a moment that was useful to do in terms of commemoration. And what I try to do in a lot of my assignments is to implement historical research skills. The research done for this project is the same as what the students would have had to have done for a ten page research paper but instead present it in an innovative and create some sort of outlook. Instead of them turning in a paper that they know I’m the only who who’s ever going to read, they’re interpreting and presenting the information for a public audience.

What was it like to work as a consultant for the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities?

“I worked on a public relations campaign for them. I was hired by a new president of the association who wanted to do some evaluation and rethinking of the way the association interacted with the world. I did some of the background research and how that association could interact with the public; prospective students. I had an academic background in this and I’d worked for the New York State Assembly doing media relations work.”

If you could witness/participate in any historical event what would it be?

“It would be the adoption of the declaration of independence on July 4th 1776 and watch them do it and to see their faces. To be in Congress in the Old State house in Philadelphia when they’ve said ‘We’ve dotted the I’s and crossed the T’s, checked our comma’s. We’re adopting this. We’re doing this. We’re declaring independence.’”

If you could have dinner with any historical person who would it be and why?

“Benjamin Franklin. He’s an enormously interesting character and such dinner with him would be entertaining with interesting stories and food and drink and fellow company.”

Let’s assume you’re really good at singing, dancing and acting and you have to play a role in the Hamilton the musical. Who are you playing?

“So I’d probably want to be Hamilton but I probably should be cast as George the 3rd.”

What is your advice to undergrads?

“Two pieces of advice. Number one, choose the paths you take with care. Which is to say, be mindful of the decisions you make, the courses you select and the major you pick and will lead you in a general direction you want to. And the second is to try and get involved in some way. I understand and sympathize with the busy schedules and trying to fit in everything and so within that context try and get involved in some and that ties back into the first part to be mindful of your path.”

What do you love most about Framingham State?

“Working with the students because the students here, both true in general education classes and major students, there’s a lack of pretention that can be very energizing in class that allows for faulty to be more creative, to be more interesting to ask the students to go in other directions because you all are willing to go and are interested in trying things. I really appreciate that about the students here.”