First an apology. This conversation was recorded in the lobby of a hotel, and at times you’ll get to listen in on other people’s conversations. It’s some of the worst audio ever on this podcast; I certainly hope we never have worse. But I thought the conversation important enough to preserve.
That’s because my guest today is the creative and insightful Michael Douma. He’s a historian and Director of the Georgetown Institute for the Study of Markets and Ethics at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. He’s also author most recently of Creative Historical Thinking, published by Routledge. It’s an unusual book. Douma wants historians, as teachers and writers, to think of themselves as artists–or at least engaged in a highly creative endeavor. The book is chock-full of examples, case studies, and exercises for use in the classroom–or for doodling on a pad of paper while reading the book. “Thinking outside the box” has become a tiresome cliché–normally when someone asserts that they or someone else has done so, I wish I could persuade them to get back inside the box. But Michael restores the metaphor, at least a little bit.
Michael also wants historians to think of history as a “collective and community-building exercise”, not simply as an individualistic pursuit. It’s a vision that resonates with the vision of this podcast, so it was natural that I would want to have a conversation with Michael.