Grateful American® Foundation

What is the Future of American History Education?

A Q&A with John Gray + Bruce Cole

David Bruce Smith and co-host Hope Katz Gibbs interview John Gray, the director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, and Bruce Cole, the former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities — two men who have spent their careers bringing history to life.

In this podcast you’ll learn:

  • Research shows how little too many Americans know about the topic. Why is that?
  • What can be done to get people interested in American history?
  • Is there more the government can do?
  • How can teachers be more empowered to bring history to life?
  • What can parents and grandparents do to educate kids about American history?

About John Gray

John has been the Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History since July 23, 2012. He oversees 234 employees, a budget of more than $34 million and the renewal of the museum’s 120,000-square-foot west exhibition wing with its new exhibit spaces, interior public plazas, a Hall of Music for live performances, a modern education center and a gallery for the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation.

Prior to this job, John spent much of his career in banking and government service until he became director of the Autry Museum of Western Heritage in Los Angeles. There, he enlarged the museum’s mission and scope, and, in 2002, merged the museum with Colorado’s Women of the West Museum and, in 2004, with Los Angeles’ oldest museum, the Southwest Museum of the American Indian.

About Bruce Cole

Bruce is a Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., a member of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission, and a former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

There, he managed a budget of $150 million and a staff of 170, and was responsible for awards totaling over $800 million. Appointed by President George W. Bush and unanimously confirmed by the Senate in 2001 and again in 2005, Cole is the longest serving Chairman of the NEH.

Under his leadership, the NEH launched key initiatives, including We the People, a program designed to encourage the teaching, study, and understanding of American history and culture, and Picturing America, which used great American art to teach our nation’s history and culture in 80,000 schools and public libraries nationwide.

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