Who writes this blog?
I’m Dr. Art Pitz, a professional historian with over fifty years of teaching experience. I taught at Black Hawk College, Augustana College, St. Ambrose University, Presov University, and Matej Bel University. I appreciate the teaching awards I have received, but my greatest satisfaction is hearing that history has come alive for my students and watching them develop their critical thinking skills. I bring an international perspective to my historical analysis since I have had the privilege of teaching in twelve foreign nations, and U.S. foreign relations was a focus of my doctoral studies. I am a Fulbright Senior Specialist.

What is the focus of this blog?
History Behind the News examines historical connections to current events. These connections don’t predict the future, but they DO shed light on causes, possibilities, and potential problems. I am a Professor of History, but I have always enjoyed conversations with “history buffs” and generally with people who are trying to understand how historical forces influence current events. I especially like to win over people who say that they hated history when they were in school because it was so boring or they loathed memorizing facts. If you fit somewhere in this mix, I am writing this blog for you, and I want to know what you think. Please start reading or listening, and leave a comment.

Why are you writing it?
You might wonder how is it possible to study and teach history for over fifty years and still be fascinated by it. Two reasons:

  1. History is stories, and while I greatly enjoy fiction, history is even more gripping and relevant.
  2. Understanding the motives, decisions, rhetoric, and actions of historical characters in the context of the challenges they faced helps me make sense of current events and today’s choices.

By the way, I’ve been married to my wife Suzanne for over forty-six years, and I’m still fascinated by her, too. She helps me do this.

Attending a wedding in Almaty, Kazakhstan 2006. This traditional Kazakh robe and hat was a gift from the groom’s father.

Where are you?
I live in Moline, Illinois, which is part of the Quad Cities metropolitan area. But I will be writing from other interesting places. Today is February 15, 2009, and I’ll be leaving in a little over three weeks for Poland, where I am leading a group of students on an educational tour of Holocaust sites as part of a course I’m teaching. I started teaching online courses several years ago so that I could teach from anywhere. While I lived in Slovakia and taught at Matej Bel University, I taught History of the Modern Middle East to students in Illinois. I have graded student assignments in internet cafes in chilly basements in Kiev, Ukraine with boys playing video games at the next computer. The people I meet in these places help me understand history. This summer I hope to spend several weeks in Africa. I can teach from anywhere. In fact, my previous blog, which I wrote at the request of the Quad City Times, was called “Historian on the Move.”

When do you write
I try to write regularly, but I’m busy teaching history. Actually, speaking is easier and more natural for me than writing, so I may do audio recordings more often than I write. One way or another, I’ll do my best to keep up with the news. I read a wide range of periodicals and always have a stack of books beside the sofa, which should help me keep my articles honest and fresh.

Thanks for reading,
Dr. Art PItz
The Professor’s House