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Robert J. McMahon, Ralph D. Mershon Distinguished Professor, The Ohio State University


This Gilder Lehrman seminar will explore with participating teachers two distinct but inseparably linked topics: American involvement in the Vietnam War, and American society during the tumultuous decade of the 1960s.

The Vietnam War became the longest, most controversial, and most divisive foreign conflict in US history. It divided the American people more profoundly that any event since the Civil War a century earlier, triggering a broad-based peace movement at home and inspiring deep social, cultural, and political changes—changes that continue to reverberate across the national landscape. Lectures and readings will move from a broad examination of the roots of US involvement in the 1940s and 1950s and the Vietnamese context for the war to a concentration on the diplomatic and military strategies pursued by the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations. The focus, in this phase of the seminar, will be on the most active years of US involvement from the early 1960s up to the Paris Peace Agreement of January 1973. The war will be examined in terms of its overall strategic, military, political, economic, and social context—particularly in terms of its origins, course, and consequences/legacy.

The seminar will also focus on the multiple transformations in American life that occurred during the 1960s. To that end, it will analyze, among other matters, the Civil Rights Movement; the New Frontier and the Great Society; the anti-war, New Left, and counter-culture movements; the rise of a new conservatism; and some of the demographic and economic challenges of that era. Readings will expose participants to key primary sources useful for teaching this period in US history and to the lively scholarly debates that have shaped our understanding of this complex and fascinating time. We will also attempt to underscore links between the Vietnam War and the changes that simultaneously rocked Americans at home.


Readings are sent by the Institute to seminar participants. Please check back soon for a list of readings.

Travel & Accommodations

There are several options for traveling to and from Columbus. For guidelines to plan your trip, please click here.

Workshop participants will be housed in an on-campus dormitory. Participants will be placed in private rooms, but may share bathroom facilities. The university provides bedding and towels only. Please note that participants should plan to bring alarm clocks, shampoo, hangers, irons, hair dryers, etc. Participants will have access to computer clusters, but many choose to bring laptops. Housekeeping services are provided throughout the week.


Meals will be served in a cafeteria in space shared by other programs. All on-campus meals will be paid for by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

Travel Reimbursement

Each summer seminar participant will receive reimbursement of travel expenses up to $400. Participants are responsible for making their own travel arrangements to and from the seminar.

Participants traveling internationally or from Alaska and Hawaii receive a $500 stipend in lieu of reimbursement upon completion of the seminar.
Applicants to seminars should note that supplements will not be given in cases where the $400 allowance is insufficient to cover all travel expenses.

Our reimbursement policy has changed from previous years. For more information on our policy click here.

Graduate Credit

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is proud to announce its agreement with Adams State University to offer three hours of graduate credit in American history to participating seminar teachers. For more information click here.


Email the Teacher Seminars department or call 646-366-9666.

July 14th, 2013 5:00 PM   through   July 20th, 2013 9:00 AM
The Ohio State University
Columbus, OH
United States
Seminar Fee
Attending $50.00
Not Attending $0.00

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