“I studied History, and then did a PhD in Geography at Cambridge. I came to Bristol in 1995 while I was writing up my PhD research. My family has a long connection to Bristol. Three of my grandparents were born here. My great-grandfather was a stonemason who worked on the Wills Memorial Building. My mother studied Geography at the University of Bristol. She was the first in her family to go to university. My grandmother was delighted when I got the job at the University.
“It is a great university to teach at. Our students are terrifically bright. They are interesting, stimulating, and thoughtful, and you get great work out of them.
“I am involved in a lot of collaborative research projects, both internationally and here in Bristol. Along with another colleague in the History Department, Peter Coates, we have a collaborative doctoral award for students researching animal and social histories of Bristol Zoo. Along with other colleagues, I also have two students working with the ss Great Britain, and one with the Imperial War Museum. Many of these links have come from a pathway in Public History on our Master's programme, which involves working with the National Trust, the ss Great Britain, the MShed Museum in Bristol, Icon Films and BBC History Magazine. Students really like a programme that is co-taught by academics and a TV documentary maker, or a museum curator, and offers opportunities to intern with heritage industry providers.
“My main research over the last 15 years has focused on the Holocaust, and in particular the implementation of the Holocaust in Hungary. Alongside writing about it, I have done a lot of work on how to teach the Holocaust in both higher education and in secondary schools. I have worked with school teachers in Britain, Hungary, the United States and in South Africa, bringing them up-to-date on the latest developments in Holocaust Studies.
“At the moment, as a department we are developing an outreach programme within primary schools to try and connect children with no family history of going to university. This grows out of a longer tradition of staff giving one-off lectures at schools, in part to show them what History at university may be like. More recently, some of my MA students on the Public History pathway have translated one of my colleagues' research on smuggling into an accessible way to engage primary school students on the topic of Bristol as a port city in the 16 to 17th centuries. It involves a lot of dressing up as smugglers! The vision is to have a children’s university as part of a wider festival of history. We want to bring children from primary schools to the University to do something fun based on serious academic research. We really care about having the best students from the widest possible range of backgrounds and encouraging children at an early age is a great way to achieve this.”