AHA Member Spotlight: David Zwart

David Zwart is an assistant professor at Grand Valley State University. He lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and has been a member since 2002.

David Zwart

Twitter handle: @ZwartDavid
Alma maters: BA, Dordt College, 1999; MA, California State University, Fresno, 2004; PhD, Western Michigan University, 2012
Fields of interest: immigration/ethnicity, memory, religion, history education

When did you first develop an interest in history? I first developed a strong interest in history during my undergraduate education at Dordt College. I had amazing professors who showed me how studying the past can help us better understand the present. They taught me how to read and write in the field.

What projects are you currently working on? I am currently working on a project about Dutch Americans in the 20th century. This project interrogates the intersection of religion, ethnicity, and memory of this group. I have also started a project examining other ethnic groups in the Midwest after World War II. I am drawn to projects about how people tell stories about themselves that reflect and reinforce their religious beliefs.

Have your interests evolved since graduation? If so, how? In my current position, I mostly work with students who plan to be history/social studies teachers so I have become more and more interested in the connection between the ways history is taught in K–12 schools and the preparation teachers need in order to teach the discipline of history.

Is there an article, book, movie, blog etc. that you could recommend to fellow AHA members? Stéphane Lévesque’s Thinking Historically: Educating Students for the Twenty-First Century (Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press, 2010) is an excellent book in the field of history education. He connects many threads between historiography and the realities of teaching history in the classroom.

 What do you value most about the history profession? I most value what I can learn from other professional historians. I love reading history in multiple fields as I am always impressed about the amount of work historians put into their writing projects. Learning about the past is never dull to me.

 Why have you continued to be a member of the AHA? I like being part of organization that shares my professional values and advocates for the profession. I particularly appreciate how the AHA has started to work more on issues of teaching history, including the Tuning Project.

 Other than history, what are you passionate about? I am passionate about my wife, sons, and being part of my church.


AHA members are involved in all fields of history, with wide-ranging specializations, interests, and areas of employment. To recognize our talented and eclectic membership, AHA Today features a regular AHA Member Spotlight series.

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