UIC historian recognized with AHA award for outstanding teaching

Robert Johnston
Robert Johnston

University of Illinois Chicago’s Robert Johnston was named the recipient of the American Historical Association’s 2020 Eugene Asher Distinguished Teaching Award, which recognizes outstanding teaching and advocacy for history teaching at two-year, four-year, and graduate colleges and universities.

Johnston, who came to UIC from Yale University in 2003, is a leading specialist in teaching and classroom leadership and serves as director of UIC’s Teaching of History program. His scholarly interests focus on the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, post-1970 U.S. history, the history of medicine, and the politics of historiography.

“Robert is recognized as one of the best instructors of history in the land. He has a slew of graduate students he is mentoring and runs our growing and dynamic Teaching of History program, which continually produces and places, in Chicago Public Schools and beyond, excellent secondary education history teachers,” said Kevin Schultz professor and chair of history and professor of religious studies and Catholic studies. “We are delighted to celebrate his nationwide achievement.”

In 2019, Johnston was named a distinguished lecturer by the Organization of American Historians, the largest professional society dedicated to the teaching and study of American history.

He has served as the academic director for three U.S. Department of Education Teaching American History grants, each more than $1 million, in conjunction with the Chicago History Museum, Newberry Library and the Chicago Metro History Education Center. He also has directed five four-week National Endowment for the Humanities summer institutes for K-12 teachers from across the country.

Johnston is a two-time recipient of both the UIC Council for Excellence in Teaching and Learning’s Teaching Recognition Program Award and the department of history’s Shirley Bill Award for excellence in teaching, which is based on votes from undergraduate and graduate students. Previous honors also include the UIC Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2016 and the Graduate Mentoring Award from the Graduate College in 2018.

Johnston’s book, “The Radical Middle Class: Populist Democracy and the Question of Capitalism in Progressive Era Portland, Oregon,” received the President’s Book Award from the Social Science History Association. His current book project, which is under contract with Oxford University Press, examines the history of controversies over vaccination in American history from the early 18th century to the present.

The award, which is co-sponsored by the Society for History Education, was established in 1988 and is named for the late Eugene Asher, who was a leading advocate for history teaching.



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