RBC his­tory pro­fes­sor con­nects stu­dents to the present

The Progress-Index Weekend - - COMMUNITY -

PRINCE GE­ORGE — Known for his pro­cliv­ity for blast­ing every­thing from hard rock to clas­si­cal mu­sic in his of­fice, As­sis­tant Pro­fes­sor of His­tory Dr. Adam Zuc­coni looks for his stu­dents to fin­ish his classes hav­ing gained a more global per­spec­tive.

“Usu­ally when stu­dents think of his­tory, they think it’s one fact af­ter an­other — but it’s not,” ex­plained Zuc­coni.

In­stead of im­plor­ing his stu­dents to mem­o­rize dates, Zuc­coni wants them to con­nect what they learn in the class­room to the world around them.

“I want stu­dents to re­al­ize that ed­u­ca­tion is a lay­er­ing process,” said Zuc­coni, who RBC stu­dents voted as their fa­vorite pro­fes­sor last year. “Stu­dents of­ten feel like they have to cram every­thing they learn into a short pe­riod of time, but that be­comes a dis­trac­tion. I want stu­dents to de­velop a con­nec­tion from class to their own his­tor­i­cal knowl­edge. I like to em­pha­size cause and ef­fect.”

Zuc­coni, who grew up in Vir­ginia’s Shenan­doah Val­ley, spent his un­der­grad­u­ate years at Bridge­wa­ter Col­lege. He ini­tially thought of ma­jor­ing in the phys­i­cal sciences, specif­i­cally astron­omy, but he never felt like the sciences could fully cap­ture the hu­man ex­pe­ri­ence.

“While I was an un­der­grad­u­ate stu­dent at Bridge­wa­ter, I found my­self drawn to not only his­tory, but govern­ment, and how com­bined they cap­ture hu­man agency.”

He de­cided to fol­low his pas­sion, and in 2009 he grad­u­ated from Bridge­wa­ter with a de­gree in His­tory and Po­lit­i­cal Sci­ence, with the goal of be­com­ing a his­tory pro­fes­sor.

He con­tin­ued his ed­u­ca­tion at Clem­son Univer­sity where he grad­u­ated with his mas­ter’s de­gree in 2011. He joined Richard Bland Col­lege in 2016 af­ter earn­ing his Ph.D. at West Vir­ginia Univer­sity where he com­pleted his dis­ser­ta­tion on West Vir­ginia dur­ing the Amer­i­can Civil War.

It’s no co­in­ci­dence that Zuc­coni’s fa­vorite class to teach is the Amer­i­can Civil War and Re­con­struc­tion course.

“Help­ing stu­dents un­der­stand why th­ese de­bates over the Civil War con­tin­u­ally resur­face is a sig­nif­i­cant goal for that class,” said Zuc­coni.

In his classes, Zuc­coni strives to deepen stu­dents’ un­der­stand­ing of his­tory by con­nect­ing the ideas and prac­tices of the past to the is­sues of to­day.

“As a teacher, you have to go be­yond the typ­i­cal nar­ra­tive and delve into com­plex is­sues stu­dents have be­come fa­mil­iar with over time,” he ex­plained. “I’m in­ter­ested in the ques­tions that stu­dents ask be­cause that pro­vides in­sight into how stu­dents are think­ing about the sub­ject mat­ter and the con­nec­tions they are cre­at­ing. It’s my job as a his­to­rian to en­cour­age stu­dents to think crit­i­cally.”

Though his classes are lec­ture-based, Zuc­coni also tries to make them in­ter­ac­tive.

“I try my best to find what will make stu­dents more ab­sorbed in the ma­te­rial,” he says. This of­ten leads to en­gag­ing stu­dents in a thought­ful dis­cus­sion about the ma­te­rial be­ing cov­ered, and ul­ti­mately per­mit­ting stu­dents’ in­quiries to di­rect the class. “The less I lec­ture, the bet­ter the class is,” he says. “For stu­dents to be en­gaged, my teach­ing style is ever-chang­ing to ac­com­mo­date the at­mos­phere of the class, and the in­di­vid­ual stu­dent.”

This ar­ti­cle was pro­vided by the Richard Bland Col­lege of Wil­liam & Mary Com­mu­ni­ca­tions De­part­ment.

[CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTO]

Richard Bland Col­lege of Wil­liam & Mary As­sis­tant Pro­fes­sor of His­tory Dr. Adam Zuc­coni looks for his stu­dents to fin­ish his classes hav­ing gained a more global per­spec­tive.

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