Alexander Olson, Ph.D.
My Role in the Honors College
I teach Honors 251: Citizen and Self and other interdisciplinary courses. I also advise capstone projects.
After attending the Seattle Public Schools, I completed my undergraduate work from Stanford University, where I won the James Birdsall Weter prize for best honors thesis in history. I later received an M.A. in history from University of Washington, taught Native American history at Shoreline Community College, and went on to receive my Ph.D. in American Culture from the University of Michigan in 2013.
I am interested in the cultural, intellectual, and social history of the United States as well as broader theoretical questions about how knowledge is created, legitimized, and connected to specific places and spaces. My current manuscript examines the struggle for democratic education in California among labor groups, public intellectuals, and education reformers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I am also interested in the relationship between history, heritage, and race. I have published in Western Historical Quarterly, Southwest Review, Pacific Northwest Quarterly, and Boom. One of my articles won the Bert Fireman Award from the Western History Association in 2009, and I was recognized with the K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award from the Association of American Colleges & Universities in 2012.
Hobbies and Interests
I enjoy cooking, running, basketball, and curling. I am also a lifelong Seattle Mariners fan, a Baltimore Ravens fan by marriage, and the proud owner of a rescue dog named Doc. I speak Latvian (my mother was a refugee from Latvia) and am doing my best to learn Spanish.
What Brought Me to the HC
I was drawn to the emphasis of the Honors College on student engagement. I believe students and faculty should be partners in the learning process and that undergraduate research is the bedrock of a successful college education. I see Honors 251 as a new type of introductory course in the humanities and social sciences, preparing students for a lifetime of learning as citizen scholars and civic professionals.
A Little About Myself
I have driven through 47 out of 50 states and hope to eventually check off Alaska, Maine, and Oklahoma from the list.