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Material Culture and Public Humanities
203 Draper Road
Blacksburg, VA 24061
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Email Contact(s):
Phone Number(s):
Aaron Ansell:
Michelle Moseley:

Graduate Certificate in Material Culture and Public Humanities

This is a cross-disciplinary graduate certificate comprised of 9 credits of key coursework in the MA Program in Material Culture and Public Humanities. These courses focus on material objects and their placement in theoretical, cultural, and historical perspectives, as well as public representations of a wide range humanities-based knowledge. As such, the Certificate prepares students for careers in museums, historical societies, and other cultural organizations.

The MCPH Certificate is geared both to VT graduates in other MA/PhD programs who wish to focus on themes of material culture and public humanities, and to scholars from outside the VT community who may wish to pursue continuing education as “Commonwealth Campus” students in this non-degree program.

Most of the courses on the Certificate curriculum are either already accessible to distance learners or can be adapted for distance learners upon conversation with the instructor.

See the MCPH Website ( for further information or contact one of the Graduate Directors, Dr. Aaron Ansell ( or Dr. Michelle Moseley (

How to Apply:
Fill out the online application for participation in the certificate program.
Upon processing of the application, you will be contacted
with information about the submission of additional
required materials. Thank you for your interest.

Admission Requirements

  • Students already enrolled in other VT graduate (MA or PhD) degree programs may apply for the MCPH Certificate by filling out the Graduate Certificate Application form in consultation with one of the two co-directors of the MCPH program, Drs. Aaron Ansell ( and Michelle Moseley (

     Scholars from outside the VT community who wish to pursue an MCPH Certificate can do so by applying for graduate study via the Commonwealth Campus (see link). They will need to submit a transcript (unofficial is sufficient) or a copy of their diploma for the highest degree attained. (No graduate entrance exams are required.) For more information about the Commonwealth Campus see this link.

     All students seeking admission to the MCPH Certificate program should contact one of the Graduate Directors, Dr. Aaron Ansell ( or Dr. Michelle Moseley (

Course Requirements

The certificate requires 9 credit hours, distributed as follows:

3 Credits Foundational Coursework, either

ART/HUM/RLCL 5104: Research Methods in Material Culture and Public Humanities (3H, 3C

Investigation of methodologies with specific application to cultural objects situated in the public sphere


ART/HUM/RLCL 5204: Research Methods in Material Culture and Public Humanities (3H,3C)

Topics cover steps for developing an installation, from analysis, archiving, to writing and interpretation for various audiences.


6 Credits Electives from the following courses

ART 5584: Topics in Material Culture (3H, 3C)

Advanced seminar. Provides a comprehensive examination of various periods and subjects of material culture through rotating topics. Topics indicated by timetable. May be repeated for credit for a maximum of 9 credits. Graduate standing required.


HUM/RLCL 5584: Topics in Public Humanities (3H, 3C)

Advanced seminar on topics in public humanities, ranging from an exploration of how various humanities disciplines relate to public issues and concerns, to a study of region, regionalism, and place in public humanities. May be repeated with different topic content for a maximum of 9 credits. Pre-requisite: Graduate Standing required. 

HUM/RLCL:  Material Culture and Humanities in the Public Sphere (3H, 3C)

Advanced seminar on material culture and humanities in the public sphere through an examination of humanistic approaches to civic spaces, applying critical turns to public debates.


RLCL 5124/ASPT 5124: Religion & Modernity in the West (3H, 3C)

A study of the relationship between religion and modernity in the West, with analysis of whether modern society is "disenchanted" or "secularized," or whether religion has remained a potent force in western society and thought. Through a survey of some of the major thinkers and themes of modern religious thought, we will consider the philosophical, economic, political, and legal aspects of the location of religion in the modern world. Pre: Graduate standing.


ART 5984: Exhibition, Design, and Display (3H, 3C)                                    

Focus on the display and presentation of visual art, using local (including university) galleries and sites as venues for student-designed exhibitions. Provides experience in the public art arena, and practical knowledge about planning, designing and mounting exhibitions.


HIST 5424:  Public History (3H, 3C)

Introduction to the theoretical, interpretive, controversial, and practical issues facing public historians. Focus on interpretations and specific issues surrounding the presentation of history in museum exhibits, documentary films, photographic collections, community history projects, the Internet, and a variety of other public venues.

With permission from a MCPH co-director, any other 5000 or 6000-level course in VT’s Graduate Catalogue (including independent studies) can count toward the elective requirement.

See the MCPH Website ( for further information about our courses.