American history series produced by CHSBS & CMU Public Broadcasting airs from U.S. to U.K.
January 21, 2015
An academic vision to tell a story of America from various historical perspectives is attracting millions of viewers internationally.
“America from the Ground Up,” a series about America's archaeological and historical treasures, digs into America’s rich past searching for clues of its hidden history. The six-episode series will be shown in a marathon this Sunday.
“I hope viewers of this program come away with the sense of the importance of America's archaeological treasures,” said archeologist and CMU alumnus Monty Dobson. “We have such a rich historical environment here in the U.S., everything from "lost" Native American cities like Cahokia to shipwrecks, burial grounds and forts. We should celebrate the richness and diversity of our American story that is recorded in the archaeology.”
Making it happen
Pamela Gates, dean of CMU’s College of Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences, had a vision to make the documentary, written by Dobson and CMU history professor Andrew Devenney, come to life through video.
She connected Dobson, who served as the inaugural visiting scholar for CMU’s School of Public Service and Global Citizenship, with CMU media producer Dan Bracken. Together, with the help of many resources from across campus, they developed a plan for creating the content.
They shot the series in more than 30 locations throughout North America during the summer and fall of 2013, but they did not work alone. Experts from universities, museums and Native American tribes all contributed to the storyline. The project took approximately three years from concept to completion.
“The thing I enjoyed most was learning to tell a story visually,” said Dobson. “I am intrigued by the ability of film and video to transport an audience to a place and time they otherwise would not be able to experience.”
Resources on campus involved in the project included CHSBS, CMU Public Broadcasting, the School of Broadcast and Cinematic Arts, and others. Financial support was provided by the Michigan Humanities Council, The National Endowment for the Humanities, The Kirby Foundation and author B.K. Bradshaw.
Reaching the masses
The series was aired on CMU Public Television and rapidly spread from there.
In the first five months of its three-year distribution, it has aired on more than 110 public television stations throughout the U.S., including major markets such as New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. According to the latest Nielsen statistics, it is available to nearly 120 million people in the U.S.
The series also was picked up internationally. Residents of the United Kingdom had access to view it through multiple primetime broadcasts and on demand. It also was available to most of Canada's major population centers, including Montreal, Quebec, Ontario and Victoria, British Columbia.
This is the first WCMU production to ever receive national distribution.
“While this project was driven mainly by Monty and Dan, we were very pleased with the resulting series and were honored to present the series to a nationwide audience,” said Ed Grant, general manager of CMU Public Broadcasting.
J. Cherie Strachan joins national advisory committee
October 5, 2013
Political science professor J. Cherie Strachan has been appointed to the national advisory committee for the Center for Civic Literacy at Indiana University Purdue University, Indianapolis.
The Center’s mission is to increase public understanding of the nature of our civic deficit, and its effect upon democratic decision-making, by mounting a public information effort aimed at opinion leaders, policymakers and educators; and second, to identify and promote the use of effective tools and “best practices” to help educators and others address the problem.
Strachan joins a National Advisory Committee of nationally and internationally prominent scholars recognized for their research on civic education and youth political participation. For more information, visit
CMU hosts international events to honor centenary of the Peace Palace
August 2013 -
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Philosophy professor Hope May and Central Michigan University received international recognition this summer for May’s efforts in organizing educational outreach activities surrounding the centennial anniversary of the Peace Palace—known as the seat of international law.
May organized an international conference in The Netherlands for students and young professionals Aug. 25-27 and hosted a public educational ceremony with keynote speakers Leymah Gbowee, a peace activist who received the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize; Brigid Inder, executive director of the Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice; and Stephen J. Rapp, U.S. Ambassador for Global Criminal Justice.
She received a $55,000 grant from the Planethood Foundation to develop student engagement opportunities and build public awareness about the International Criminal Court, the history of international law and the “Peace through Law” approach. Additional funding came from the College of Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences and the Department of Philosophy and Religion at CMU.
The Planethood Foundation, an initiative of former Nuremberg Prosecutor Benjamin Ferencz and his son Donald, supports projects pertaining to the International Criminal Court and educational efforts to replace the law of force with the force of law.
May also distributed packages of materials about peace history and international law to 30 partners across the globe, including locations in China, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Korea and the United Kingdom.
Located in The Hague, Netherlands, the Peace Palace is home to the “World Court” of the United Nations, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the Hague Academy of International Law, and an extensive library dedicated to international law. It was built with funds donated by Andrew Carnegie and opened on August 28, 1913.