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The term ‘public history’ was first used in the United States in the 1970s. Public historians, unlike academic historians, focus on creating narratives about the past that are available and attractive for the general public. They address topics that are interesting for specific audiences, such as local history, family history, minority history, and everyday life. They often try not only to make the public interested in the historical content they produce, but also encourage people to discover the past on their own. For example, they act as research advisors for private individuals and groups, coordinate work of teams consisting of professional historians and history enthusiasts, organise festivals and city games, conduct interviews (oral history) and teach others how to do it, run workshops, create interactive exhibitions and support volunteers in museums, cultural institutions, NGOs and foundations. Finally, they examine the functions that history plays in social life.

The main target group of the project are students and PhD students interested in how history functions in the public sphere, employees of institutions, organizations and foundations whose activities are associated with public history, freelancers and other interested persons. The school is open to participants of different age groups and does not foresee any preferences or discrimination based on age or stage of academic or professional career, however, given the specificity of the summer school, the core of participants are students and doctoral candidates in the field of public history. The awarded funding enables the organizers to offer individual travel grants to selected participants.

Planned activities within the project include promoting the school and attracting participants (speakers); inviting renowned speakers, moderators and mentors; organising five-day summer schools: lectures, workshops, presentations of participants’ research projects, public historical events (visits to local museums and other institutions, playing historical board games, screenings of Polish historical films) and assistance in refining the presented papers so that they can become the basis for publication after the PHSS.

Allocating funds for promotion and covering costs of participation, equipment and access to internet services will help to attract the best participants and ensure a high level of presentations.

The project allows Institute of History of the UWr to continue organizing public history summer schools that have been held regularly in June or July since 2018. The call for papers is always published in January, and the deadline for submissions is usually mid-April. The call for papers can be found in leading humanities conference databases, social media, and on the school’s website:

Project implementation will contribute to:

  • developing the knowledge and skills of students and PhD candidates;
  • internationalisation of the University of Wrocław’s didactic offer;
  • improving the prestige of the PHSS (organised since 2018) and promoting the MA in public history at the University of Wrocław;
  • popularizing public history in Poland and worldwide;
  • creating a forum for exchange between young researchers and experienced scientists, as well as networking opportunities for students and doctoral candidates from different countries and cultures;
  • expanding the University of Wrocław’s teaching offer in remote and hybrid formats;
  • strengthening the image of Polish science and Poland as a country of attractive educational opportunities.

People responsible for project implementation: Joanna Wojdon, Institute of History, Szewska 49, 50-139 Wrocław, Poland (, Dorota Wiśniewska, Institute of History, Szewska 49, 50-139 Wrocław, Poland (

Budget: 269 575,00 PLN

The programme is co-financed by the European Social Fund under the Operational Programme Knowledge Education Development, non-competition procedure, project: „Supporting institutional capacity of Polish universities through the creation and implementation of international study programmes” (Measure: 3.3 Internationalisation of Polish higher education), as defined in the project application no. POWR.03.03.00-00-PN16/18.

PHSS 2021

The fourth Public History Summer School took place on 7-11 June 2021 on the Zoom platform. The event was organised by Joanna Wojdon, Dorota Wiśniewska, and Marta Kopiniak (Institute of History). It was co-organised by the Depot History Centre and the International Federation for Public History, as well as held under the patronage of the Commission for Public History of the Committee of Historical Sciences of the Polish Academy of Sciences. There were 50 active participants, including 14 from Poland and 36 from abroad (Brazil, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, USA, Hungary, UK). In addition, each session attired the attention of 40-70 other participants who did not present their projects.

The opening lecture was given by Dominic A. Pacyga (Columbia College Chicago), who concentrated on attractive ways of talking about the past. Marek Szajda (Depoty History Centre/Institute of History) conducted a workshop on oral history and Dobrochna Kałwa, from the University of Warsaw, prepared a class entitled “Gendering public history”. The school also included a round table concerning public history training at universities in Europe, Canada and the United States. Students, PhD candidates, young researchers and practitioners presented their projects in 11 sessions. They focused on the methodology of public history, the design and creation of content related to history, and the uses of the past in public spaces in general. You can find the detailed programme here.

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