The State of Drug and Alcohol History Pedagogy: Teaching Challenges and Innovations (Teaching Webinar Roundtable, 1/8/2021)

Tune in this Friday, January 8, 2021, at 1:00 PM EST (12:00 Noon CST / 10:00 AM PST) for a Teaching Roundtable, The State of Drug and Alcohol History Pedagogy: Teaching Challenges and Innovations,” sponsored by the American Historical Association and the Alcohol and Drugs History Society. The free streaming online webinar will bring together teaching faculty to discuss the challenges (and rewards) of drug and alcohol history pedagogy and the unique approaches, methods, and tools they employ for responding to these challenges.

Click here to access the Zoom link for the panel.

The Roundtable Participants will be:

  • Chair: Robert Stephens, Associate Professor of History, Virginia Tech
  • Presenter: Aileen Teague, Assistant Professor of International Affairs, Texas A&M: “Using Experiential Learning to Understand the Opioid Crisis
  • Presenter: Lucas Richert, Associate Professor, University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Pharmacy: “Pharmacy Education & Psychoactive Substances in History”
  • Presenter: Kenneth Faunce, Associate Professor of History, Washington State University: “Using the History of Drugs to Examine the Processes of Globalization and Imperialism
  • Presenter: James Bradford, Assistant Professor, Berklee College of Music and Adjunct Lecturer, Babson College: “Professor, Therapist, or Clinician?: Teaching the History of Drugs to “Users” Amidst an Evolving Legal and Social Environment”
Webinar Abstract:

Over the past decade, cutting edge scholarship has opened new frontiers in the study of drugs and alcohol. At the same time, popular interest in these topics continues to motivate undergraduates to enroll in courses that help them better understand the history of psychoactive substance use and addiction and how it has shaped the current landscape of drug and alcohol issues in our society. But also, such popular interest in these topics is itself a tool for helping faculty engage students in broader subject matter in our society, culture, and politics.

This roundtable will bring together teaching faculty to discuss the challenges (and rewards) of drug and alcohol history pedagogy and the unique approaches, methods, and tools they employ for responding to these challenges. Providing a platform for faculty presenters to discuss issues they have faced in the classroom, this session will discuss a variety of issues in teaching undergraduates the narrative of psycho-activity, ranging from course design to strategies and tactics for using drugs and alcohol narratives for understanding more complicated subject matter. As a roundtable, it will also provide a platform for the audience to present questions about issues they have faced, opening up discussion about this important, yet understudied teaching area.   

Presentations Abstracts:

Aileen Teague, Assistant Professor of International Affairs, Texas A&M: Using Experiential Learning to Understand the Opioid Crisis

My presentation will draw from the course I designed on the opioid crisis, which incorporated historical, policy, and public health perspectives. I will examine the variety of experiential learning tactics I employed alongside engagement with historical narratives, which included engaging with guest speakers working in the local addiction community, visiting rehab facilities and methadone clinics, and having students attend AA meetings. This combination of approaches worked to humanize the subject of addiction, immersing students in top-down and bottom-up perspectives on the history and place of opioid addiction in our society, and placing students in a better position to propose potential policy solutions.


Lucas Richert, Associate Professor, School of Pharmacy, University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Pharmacy: Pharmacy Education & Psychoactive Substances in History

This presentation will discuss the ways that history constitutes part of the pharmacy curriculum at UW-Madison. When it comes to emergent medicines (cannabis or psychedelics) or administering naloxone, for example, pharmacists have a significant role to play in the health care landscape and policy arena. Access to historical narratives and case studies enable a more holistic education and ultimately enhance professional practice.


Kenneth Faunce, Associate Professor of History, Washington State University: Using the History of Drugs to Examine the Processes of Globalization and Imperialism

My presentation will draw on two courses I designed on Drugs in World History and the Global Drug Trade. Both courses aid students in understanding complex processes in history and society through the lens of drugs and alcohol. The goal is for students to gain a better understanding of globalization and imperialism and their development and impact on the present. The history of drugs can provide students with insight into the processes of the modern world.


James Bradford, Assistant Professor, Berklee College of Music and Adjunct Lecturer, Babson College: Professor, Therapist, or Clinician?: Teaching the History of Drugs to “Users” Amidst an Evolving Legal and Social Environment

My presentation will draw on two courses that I teach, Drugs and Intoxicants in World History and the History of Vice: Sex, Drugs, and Policy. My courses engage students directly in the history of drug use and drug control, and encourage students to explain how the vestiges of the past resonate in contemporary discourses, such as those surrounding addiction, cannabis policies, and globalization. Yet, the course has also evolved in unintended ways. What is becoming more common among my students is that many of them are directly or indirectly affected by drug use and addiction, and it is an unavoidable source of discussion in our classes. My presentation will explore how I deal with this dynamic, as an educator, as a mentor, and as a fellow human, particularly in light of changing legal and social landscapes surrounding drugs.

One thought on “The State of Drug and Alcohol History Pedagogy: Teaching Challenges and Innovations (Teaching Webinar Roundtable, 1/8/2021)

  1. I just turned seventy-five, and I am wondering if my pioneering book in this field — The White Logic: Alcoholism and Gender in Modernist American Fiction (Umass Press, 1974) still has any currency. OK if it doesn’t. The scholarly canon changes with every scholarly generation. And I am thrilled by all the contemporary work. I also began to teach courses during the nineties on Representations of Alcoholism in American Fiction and Film. But please don’t forget Dionysos (available online), the foundational journal, created by Roger Forseth and others in English departments. It might seem crude to you, but it was a crucial and enabling venue at the time. For several years, the Modern Language Association refused to recognize the field as worthy of special sessions. As a consequence/protest, I resigned from MLA. So did others.

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