Dear colleague letter in detail

Dear Colleague:

We invite you to sail back in time with us as we investigate “Empires of the Wind: Exploration of the United States Pacific West Coast” in a five-day Landmarks of American History and Culture teacher workshop supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities. If you ever dreamed about sailing into the past, this is your opportunity to join a crew made up of distinguished university professors and noted historians as we navigate through 400 years of West Coast history while exploring one of the world’s greatest collections of historic vessels, rare museum gallery exhibits, and historic sites in San Diego.

The Program. Workshops will be held June 21-26 and August 2-7, 2015. Every day leading academics will conduct lecture-discussion sessions aboard the fleet of historic landmark ships of the Maritime Museum of San Diego. The workshop culminates with an at-sea sailing adventure aboard the 145 ft. official state tall ship, Californian.

The workshop is designed to take advantage of a location, institution, and collections that relate directly to West Coast exploration in compelling ways. San Diego is justifiably known as “the place where California began.” Its promontory, Point Loma, was the first location currently within the boundaries of the United States West Coast to be described, provided geographical coordinates, and placed on a map. San Diego is the first city on the U.S. West Coast to be established as a European settlement by the Spanish during the exploration of the Pacific by rival European powers during the eighteenth century. It was one of the first strategic ports seized by the United States in its war with Mexico, and today is home to the greatest concentration of conventional naval power that the world has ever known.

The selection of workshop topics, sites, and activities collectively explains historical developments in the Pacific that set the stage for the arrival of the Americans. Thematically, the lecture-discussion sessions are intended to provoke new ways of thinking about the Pacific and its role in the American story.

Day 1, begins with an opening reception orientation and a docent-led tour of the following three vessels within the San Diego Maritime Museum collections.

The Star of India, launched in 1863, is both a state historical landmark and recipient of the World Historic Ship Award. The world's oldest active sailing ship, she is the museum's flagship and the image of the museum's logo.

The 555 USS Dolphin, the deepest diving submarine in the world, is responsible for many "firsts," but is not primarily associated with any specific historic event or time frame during her nearly forty years of service. Rather, it is her unique, extreme deep-diving capability that sets her apart and has continually placed her at the forefront of undersea naval research during her entire career.

The Berkeley is an 1898 steam ferryboat that operated for 60 years on San Francisco Bay and is now a California State Historic Landmark, and a National Historic Landmark. Berkeley designed in the Victorian Age has a unique historical and architectural significance. She is the finest example of a 19th century steam ferryboat still afloat.

Day 2, “The Pacific as two worlds imagined,” begins with an opening lecture-discussion, “Sailing with Cabrillo from a Medieval World to the Modern World: How Maps Changed the World View by Changing the View of the World,” led by Dr. Ray Ashley, who specializes in the relationship between sea power and the development of the modern scientific establishment in the age of sail.  Dr. Ashley’s discussion will cover early voyages along what are today the west coasts of the U.S. and Mexico and the emerging understanding of a “Pacific world” characterized by seaborne connections across vast oceanic space and fantastic and fanciful geographical constructions.

The group will then travel to the site of the San Salvador, a replica of the 1542 ship of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, the first European to chart the West Coast. NEH Summer Scholars will tour the Native American Kumeyaay encampment, the ship building courtyard, and the many demonstration stations. They will visit interpreters from Cabrillo National Monument, which commemorates the first landing of Europeans on what is now the West Coast of the United States. The group will then travel to the monument to take advantage of the many teacher resources it has to offer.

“First Peoples and their Cultures: Contacts between Native Peoples and Europeans: Cortez, Ulloa, Cabrillo, and Coronado,” the second lecture-discussion of the workshop, will be led by Steve Colston, Ph.D., associate professor of history at San Diego State University, whose specialties include early Mesoamerica and the Spanish Borderlands. Dr. Colston will examine early Spanish contacts with native peoples in Mexico and the Pacific Coast and lead participants on an exploration of translations of original accounts of these first contacts. The extraction of native voices from these firsthand narratives will be achieved through textual analysis, which will include the use of ethnohistorical and ethnographic analogs (for example sixteenth-century Nahua textual and pictorial accounts of the Cortez expedition). This lecture will be followed by a presentation by a National Parks Service education interpretation specialist. Workshop participants will then have time to explore the National Monument.

Day 3, “The Pacific deciphered” continues the narrative with a presentation by Dr. Jim Cassidy, who will discuss Native American seafaring and look at prehistoric migration along the Pacific Coast. Dr. Cassidy will also examine recent excavation in the Channel Islands and talk about the recently uncovered artifacts, which participants may view during the visit. They are believed to be the earliest artifacts found anywhere in the Americas. In addition, Dr. Ray Ashley will discuss the migration and navigational capabilities of indigenous Pacific peoples that allowed them to cross vast oceanic distances unaided by instruments.

Following the morning's discussions, NEH Summer Scholars will have a presentation activity entitled "Who are the Kumeyaay?" Instructor Stan Rodriguez from the local Kumeyaay College will present a hands-on activity weaving elements of Kumeyaay language, tool making, and traditional foods.

The afternoon's lecture-discussion begins with, “Cracking the Code of the Winds: How the Quest for Empire Devolved into the Quest to Learn the Oceanography and Climatology of the Pacific and the American West Coast” led by Professor Emeritus David Ringrose of the University of California San Diego, the author of numerous books on the history of the Spanish colonial empire. Participants will discuss how the vast Pacific Ocean initially posed a seemingly impossible barrier to finding a route to the Indies. This lecture will not only review the fundamentals of early oceanographic exploration but look at climatology in a historical perspective to help teachers make connections to current issues and the expansion of past empires.

Day 4, “The Pacific rationalized” begins with “The Voyages of the Enlightenment and the Founding of California,” a session led by Professor Kevin Sheehan, who specializes in Spanish maritime enterprise in the Pacific during the eighteenth century. This lecture will tie the Spanish decision to colonize California, more than two centuries after its discovery, to events taking place across the expanse of the Pacific and to the loss of Spain’s monopoly on Pacific seafaring to other European powers during the Enlightenment period.

Later in the day, Dr. Sheehan will discuss “California both as an Island and as an Administrative Extension Of New Spain.” Participants will investigate how imaginative geographies arose from the quest for fame and fortune on the part of European explorers. For two hundred years cartographers presented an impression of California as an island, one of the greatest geographical misconceptions in history.

NEH Summer Scholars will then take a guided history tour of Old Town State Historic Park, where a mission and fort were built in 1769.

Day 5, “The Pacific contested” will begin with a trip up to the Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala which was the first Franciscan mission in the Las Californias Province of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. It was founded in 1769 by Spanish friar Junipero Serra in an area long inhabited by the Kumeyaay Indians. NEH Summer Scholars will be led by Dr. Iris Engstrand, professor of history at the University of San Diego, who specializes in the history of the Spanish borderlands, Pacific exploration, and California. We will travel back to the museum for the first lecture discussion session, “Empires In Collision: The Nootka Sound Crisis," which emphasizes the pivotal role played by indigenous peoples in the European quest for empire on the Pacific coast.

Our final formal lecture-discussion will be “Americans in the Pacific: From the China Trade and the Search of Furs to the Maritime Role of California in the U.S. Civil War,” led by Captain Bruce Linder, USN (ret). Captain Linder’s lecture will constitute a re-imagining of U.S. history and continental expansion from a Pacific and maritime perspective: the story of a nation drawn westward by the maritime lure of the Pacific rather than pushed westward by the continental pressures of the Atlantic world. Dr. Linder is a widely published author and historian specializing in the relationship between naval power and the development of seaport communities.

Day 6: “The Pacific remembered” Unique to this workshop will be the culminating activity which will be conducted aboard the official state tall ship, Californian, a 140-foot topsail schooner and replica of the ships that patrolled and defended the West Coast between the Gold Rush and the Civil War. NEH Summer Scholars will take an active role in sailing the ship: raising sail, standing a watch on the helm, and firing a broadside from her battery of guns. Sailing ships were the technology that linked the early modern world. They were the first large scale innovations of the modern world and first in which people, cargo, power, and ideals all traveled in the same package. The voyage on the Californian will supply experiential understanding of both the power and limitations of this once revolutionary technology. The program will conclude with the distribution of stipend and discussion.

Housing & Transportation
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This workshop is available to full-time and part-time classroom teachers and librarians in public, private, parochial, charter schools, as well as home schooling parents. Other K-12 school personnel, including administrators, substitute teachers, and classroom professionals, are also eligible to participate, subject to available space. There are no pre-requisites for participation; however, successful applicants will be responsible for pre-course readings that are to be downloaded from the project website. In addition, workshop faculty will provide additional source materials and supplemental readings to accompany the daily sessions. During the workshop, participants will be expected to participate in curriculum sessions each day and to develop materials for their classrooms. Workshop participation includes sailing aboard the tall ship Californian on the final day. Participants who suffer from motion sickness/seasickness should consider their own comfort level prior to applying to the program. Participants wishing to receive academic credits will have additional assignments, and all participants will receive documentation for professional development purposes.

A stipend of $1,200 per NEH Summer Scholar will be paid at the end of the workshop session to help with travel and living expenses.

Prospective applicants should be aware that they are expected to participate in all aspects of the program, including the final day of sailing aboard the tall ship Californian.

NEH Summer Scholar applicants must:

  • Submit an essay of one double-spaced page. This essay should include information about your professional background and interest in the subject of the workshop; your special perspectives, skills, or experiences that would contribute to the workshop; and how the experience would enhance your teaching or school service.
  • Submit a letter of recommendation from the principal or department head of your teaching institution in support of their application.

The completed application should be postmarked no later than March 2, 2015, and should be addressed as follows:

Susan Sirota, Director of Education
Maritime Museum of San Diego
1492 North Harbor Drive
San Diego, CA 92101

The MMSD website provides a comprehensive program overview including the faculty, venue, field trips, and information about stipends, housing, and transportation. Before submitting an application, be sure to read the NEH Applicant Guidelines, which are included with this letter and have been posted on the project website. Completed applications are submitted to Susan Sirota, not the NEH, and must be postmarked no later then March 2, 2015. Successful applicants will be notified of their selection on March 30, 2015, and they will have until April 3, 2015 to accept or decline the offer. Once participants accept an offer, they may not accept another offer for a different NEH program.

We look forward to sailing with you!

Raymond Ashley,
Project Director, Empires of the Wind: Exploration of the United States Pacific West Coast Teacher Workshop
President, Maritime Museum of San Diego


How to apply.

NEH Applicant Guidelines

Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in “Empires of the Wind: the Exploration of the Pacific West Coast” teacher workshop do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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