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A Message from CHID's Director, Phillip Thurtle

Submitted by Alexandra Erin Furness on June 5, 2019 - 11:06am
Phillip Thurtle at Table

Calling All Alumni!

On the 23rd and 24th of May, CHID celebrated its 40th Anniversary. This remarkable occasion brought together alumni, students, faculty, and staff (including faculty and staff who no longer work in CHID!) to discuss the role of CHID in today’s political climate and celebrate the accomplishments of CHID students and alumni. We intently listened to Kathleen Belew (Assistant Professor in History at University of Chicago) present on her new book, Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America; we ate, drank, and celebrated the program that has shaped all of us in some fashion; and then we discussed the “Future of CHID in Higher Education” with CHID alumni Kathleen Belew and Marie Shimada and current students Muindi Muindi and Izumi Nance. All events drew engaged participants with encouraging, if not enthusiastic, responses.

I left these events deeply impressed by the importance of finding new ways of connecting alumni with students, staff, and faculty. Each alumnus has their own story to tell. They’ve faced challenges that our graduates will face and they may have resources that our graduates will need. It was toward this end that Marie Shimada and Karan Grewal, of the CHID alumni Board, began the alumni student mentorship program. This program intends to connect students and alumni with shared interests, career trajectories, or experiencing personal and professional challenges. Please contact the alumni board if you wish to participate! (

I would also like to personally encourage alumni to reach out to me or to the alumni board with other ideas on how you would best like to interact with the CHID program. I realize that a single approach might not work, as each alumnus is different. I also realize that solutions found for other programs might not work, as there aren’t many programs that do what we do in the way that we do it. Yet the experience of celebrating CHID’s 40 years of existence convinced many of us that the newly established Comparative History of Ideas Department will want to ensure that alumni are integral to the growth of the department over the next 40 years.