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Earlier Videos (2011-2022)

December 12, 2022: World War II Memory in Putin's Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin has gone to extraordinary lengths to commemorate the Second World War. Even though the war ended over 77 years ago, Putin has made World War II memory central to contemporary Russian national identity. This talk explores how war remembrance serves Putin’s interests, including with regard to his war in Ukraine.


  • David L. Hoffmann, College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor, Department of History, The Ohio State University
  • Nicholas Breyfogle (Moderator), Associate Professor of History and Director, Goldberg Center for Excellence in Teaching, The Ohio State University

November 21, 2022: How does U.S. Ideology drive U.S. Foreign Relations?

The United States was a nation forged in the ideological fires of a democratic revolution to overturn monarchy and imperial control. Yet many American leaders and citizens ever since have denied or rejected a foreign policy guided by ideology.

Why? If ideas and ideologies help us to order and explain the world, often serving as rationales for (in)action as well as explanations for success or failure, how does the history of U.S. foreign relations appear differently when viewed through the lens of ideology? In short, how has and does ideology drive U.S foreign relations?


  • Christopher McKnight Nichols, Professor of History and Wayne Woodrow Hayes Chair in National Security Studies at The Ohio State University.  An Andrew Carnegie Fellowship Award winner and Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer, Nichols is a frequent public commentator on U.S. politics and foreign policy. Nichols is the author or editor of six books, including most recently Ideology in U.S. Foreign Relations: New Histories (2022).
  • Nicholas Breyfogle (Moderator), Associate Professor of History and Director, Goldberg Center for Excellence in Teaching, The Ohio State University.

May 10, 2022: Sweet Fuel: The Remarkable Story of Brazilian Ethanol

As the hazards of carbon emissions increase and governments around the world seek to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, the search for clean and affordable alternate energies has become an increasing priority in the twenty-first century. However, one nation has already been producing such a fuel for almost a century: Brazil. Its sugarcane-based ethanol is the most efficient biofuel on the global fuel market, and the South American nation is the largest biofuel exporter in the world.

Jennifer Eaglin discusses her new book and offers a historical account of the industry's origins. The Brazilian government mandated a mixture of ethanol in the national fuel supply in the 1930s, and the success of the program led the military dictatorship to expand the industry and create the national program Proálcool in 1975. Private businessmen, politicians, and national and international automobile manufacturers together leveraged national interests to support this program. By 1985, over 95% of all new cars in the country ran exclusively on ethanol, and, after consumers turned away from them when oil was cheap, the government successfully promoted flex fuel cars instead. Yet, as she shows, the growth of this “green energy” came with associated environmental and social costs in the form of water pollution from liquid waste generated during ethanol distillation and exploitative rural labor practices that reshaped Brazil's countryside.

Jennifer Eaglin, Assistant Professor of History and Sustainability Institute
Nicholas Breyfogle (Moderator), Associate Professor of History, Director, Goldberg Center

April 11, 2022: Seed Money: Monsanto's Past and Our Food Future

Join us as Bart Elmore takes us on an authoritative and eye-opening journey into how the company Monsanto came to have outsized influence over our food system. Monsanto, a St. Louis chemical firm that became the world’s largest maker of genetically engineered seeds, merged with German pharma-biotech giant Bayer in 2018―but its Roundup Ready seeds, introduced twenty-five years ago, are still reshaping the farms that feed us. Elmore will examine Monsanto’s astounding evolution from a scrappy chemical startup to a global agribusiness powerhouse. Monsanto used seed money derived from toxic products―including PCBs and Agent Orange―to build an agricultural empire, promising endless bounty through its genetically engineered technology.

Bart Elmore, Associate Professor of Environmental History and Core Faculty, Sustainability Institute
Nicholas Breyfogle (Moderator), Associate Professor of History and Director, Goldberg Center for Excellence in Teaching

March 21, 2022: Picturing Black History

Learn about an exciting new collaboration that marries photographs and words to bring Black history to life. Picturing Black History https://www.picturingblackhistory.org/ is a collaborative project between Getty Images and Ohio State’s Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective http://origins.osu.edu that contributes to the ongoing public dialogue on the significance of Black history and Black life. The project embraces the power of images to capture stories of oppression and resistance, perseverance and resilience, freedom dreams, imagination, and joy within the United States and around the globe.


  • Bob Ahern | Director of Archive Photography for Getty Images
  • Dawn Chitty, (Ed.D.) | Director of Education at the African American Civil War Museum
  • Daniela Edmeier (Moderator) | Ph.D. Candidate History, Ohio State, and Managing Editor of Picturing Black History
  • Damarius Johnson | Ph.D. student History, Ohio State, and Associate Editor of Picturing Black History
  • James Morgan | Programming Consultant with the African American Civil War Museum

February 22, 2022: The Gospel of Judas: The Rediscovery of the Earliest Gnostic Gospel

In 2006 a small group of historians startled the world by announcing the discovery and publication of a Gospel of Judas. Could the disciple who betrayed Jesus be a hero? Sixteen years later we can see the true significance of this strange text, which reveals to us the amazing diversity of Christianity only one hundred years after Jesus.

David Brakke, Professor and Engle Chair in the History of Christianity, The Ohio State University
Nicholas Breyfogle (Moderator), Associate Professor of History and Director, Goldberg Center for Excellence in Teaching, The Ohio State University

January 24, 2022: The Global War on Drugs

Our panel of historians reevaluate what we think we know about the War on Drugs. 

When and where did it really begin?
Why has it persisted?
And perhaps most importantly, will we ever be able to quit? 

They uncover how the centuries-long history of global drug prohibition prologues today's discussions of drug use, abuse, and legalization.


  • Dr. Isaac Peter Campos, Associate Professor of History, University of Cincinnati
  • Brionna Mendoza, Doctoral candidate in History, Ohio State
  • Dr. Sarah Brady Siff, Drug Enforcement & Policy Center, Moritz College of Law; Ohio State University
  • Nicholas Breyfogle, Associate Professor of History and Director of the Goldberg Center for Excellence in Teaching, Ohio State

December 9, 2021: Cultural Diplomacy and the Global Cold War

During the Cold War, cultural diplomacy emerged as an important aspect of relations between states across the globe. Exhibitions, concerts, performances, book readings, and film screenings captured the ideological message of each side, as they showed conflicting “ways of life” in the global Cold War context. Based on Theodora Dragostinova’s recent book, "The Cold War from the Margins: A Small Socialist State on the Global Cultural Scene," this talk interrogates the importance of Cold War culture in a global perspective, tracing the cultural contacts of small Bulgaria from the British Museum and NYC’s Metropolitan to New Lexington, Ohio, to Mexico City, New Delhi, and Lagos.

Nicholas Breyfogle | Associate Professor, Department of History; Director, Goldberg Center
Theodora Dragostinova | Associate Professor, Department of History

November 16, 2021: China and Africa: Historical Perspective on a Rising Power

China has expanded its global presence over the last decade much to the concern of U.S. officials. Africa is a major recipient of this new influence, building on Cold War relationships first forged during an earlier era of Sino-American competition. Yet looking at Chinese engagement in Africa over the last 50 years reveals that increased power has transformed Beijing’s foreign policies and strained its global relationships.

Nicholas Breyfogle (Moderator) | Associate Professor, Department of History
Patrick Nash | Graduate Student, Department of History
Joe Parrott | Assistant Professor, Department of History

This podcast was supported by a U.S. Department of Education Title VI grant to The Ohio State University East Asian Studies Center, the Goldberg Center for Teaching Excellence in the History Department, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Bexley Public Library.

October 12, 2021: Ideas of Race & Racism in History

The issues of race and racism remain as urgent as ever to our national conversation. Four scholars discuss such questions as: Since Race does not exist as a biological reality, what then is race and where did the idea develop from? What is racism? How have race and racism been used by societies to justify discrimination, oppression, and social exclusion? How did racism manifest in different national and historical contexts? How have American and World history in the modern eras been defined by ideas of race and the power hierarchies embedded in racism?

Nicholas Breyfogle | Associate Professor, Department of History; Director, Goldberg Center, The Ohio State University
Alice Conklin | Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor, Department of History, The Ohio State University
Robin Judd | Associate Professor, Department of History, The Ohio State University
Hasan Jeffries | Associate Professor, Department of History, The Ohio State University
Deondre Smiles | Ph.D. Geography '20; Assistant Professor of Geography, University of Victoria, Canada

This content is made possible, in part, by Ohio Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this content do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

September 9, 2021: Reproductive Politics and the Making of Modern India

Beginning in the late nineteenth century, India played a pivotal role in global conversations about population and reproduction. In this talk about her new book, Reproductive Politics and the Making of Modern India, Mytheli Sreenivas demonstrates how colonial administrators, postcolonial development experts, nationalists, eugenicists, feminists, and family planners all aimed to reform reproduction to transform both individual bodies and the body politic. Across the political spectrum, people insisted that regulating reproduction was necessary and that limiting the population was essential to economic development. This talk investigates the often devastating implications of this logic, which demonized some women’s reproduction as the cause of national and planetary catastrophe.

To tell this story, Sreenivas explores debates about marriage, family, and contraception. She also demonstrates how concerns about reproduction surfaced within a range of political questions about poverty and crises of subsistence, migration and claims of national sovereignty, normative heterosexuality and drives for economic development. Locating India at the center of transnational historical change, this talk suggests that Indian developments produced the very grounds over which reproduction was called into question in the modern world.

Speaker: Mytheli Sreenivas is an Associate Professor in the Departments of History and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies.

August 16, 2021: Leaving Zion: Jewish Emigration from Palestine and Israel after WII

The story of Israel's foundation has often been told from the perspective of Jewish immigration to the Land of Israel. In this presentation, Ori Yehudai turns this historical narrative on its head, focusing on Jewish out-migration from Palestine and Israel between 1945 and the late 1950s. Based on previously unexamined primary sources collected from twenty-two archives in six countries, he will talk about how, despite the dominant view that displaced Jews should settle in the Jewish homeland, many Jews instead saw the country as a site of displacement or a way-station to more desirable lands. Covering events in the Middle East, Europe and the Americas, Yehudai provides a fresh transnational perspective on the critical period surrounding the birth of Israel and the post-Holocaust reconstruction of the Jewish world.

Speaker: Ori Yehudai, Assistant Professor, Dept. of History, Ohio State University 

June 7, 2021: Diet for a Large Planet

We are facing a world food crisis of unparalleled proportions. Our reliance on unsustainable dietary choices and agricultural systems is causing problems both for human health and the health of our planet. Solutions from lab-grown food to vegan diets to strictly local food consumption are often discussed, but a central question remains: how did we get to this point?

Professor Chris Otter takes us back over the last 200 years to explore how we developed our current diet heavy in meat, wheat, and sugar. He explores how the British played a significant role in making red meat, white bread, and sugar the diet of choice—linked to wealth, luxury, and power—and how dietary choices connect to the pressing issues of climate change and food supply.

Nicholas Breyfogle | Associate Professor, Department of History; Director, Goldberg Center
Chris Otter | Professor, Department of History

This event was presented in partnership with Bexley Public Library.

March 8, 2021: Medieval Women's Rights: Setting the Stage for Today

The medieval church gave birth to the misogynistic rhetoric that continues to hinder women’s progress in the West today, but it also witnessed the first real “feminist” rumblings of discontent.

Medieval women were not content to be victims of oppression: they challenged the rhetoric, and when that didn’t work, they found ways to work around it. In this podcast, historian Sara Butler speaks about women in the Middle Ages and how they faced many of the same challenges that we do today. Sara Butler is a Professor and the King George III Chair in British History at The Ohio State University Department of History.


Dec. 1, 2020: The Global History of HIV

On World AIDS Day, in the midst of another pandemic, Prof. Thomas F. McDow to looked more closely at the historical factors that shaped the global spread of HIV, from equatorial Africa to the world. 

Dec. 5, 2019: "A Historian's Guide to Saving the Planet:
What the History of Coke Can Teach Us About Curbing Pollution”

Bart Elmore
Associate Professor
Department of History
Ohio State University


April 13, 2017: "Post-Truth" Moments in History

A panel discussion by John Brooke (History), Greg Anderson (History), Melissa Curley (Comparative Studies) and Bert Harrill (History)
Moderated by David Staley (History)
Ohio State University Professors
The Oxford English Dictionary has named “post-truth” the word of 2016. Post-truth is defined as, "relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief." Our panel looks at different historical contexts/cases where generally accepted “truths” were somehow rendered unimportant, whether deliberately or unintentionally, thereby providing historical context for our more recent “post-truth” moments.

March 9, 2017: Magic and Witchcraft at the Dawn of Modernity: Why Then & What Now?

Matt Goldish
Professor and Samuel M. and Esther Melton Chair in Jewish History, Ohio State University

We may think of magic and witchcraft beliefs as relics of some bygone dark age. In this discussion we will learn that magical ideas flourished with particular success precisely at the dawn of modern times. We will also see that the European and American witch hunts did not occur in the middle ages but precisely during the scientific revolution. Why might that have been the case? And why should we still be paying close attention to occult mentalities in our own time? Presented by Ohio State History Professor Matt Goldish on March 9, 2017 at the Columbus Museum of Art. 


October 13, 2016: Climate Change, the Anthropocene and the Deep History of the Earth

John Brooke
Humanities Distinguished Professor of History and Adjunct Professor of Anthropology, Ohio State University

What is the evidence for human-driven climate change in recent history, what is coming to be called the “Anthropocene”? How does this evidence compare with what we know about climate in the past, both in the more familiar epoch of human history proper, but also in prehistory, and the deep, geological history of the earth? John Brooke provides a layman’s overview, and briefly comments on the way forward for humanity.

September 22, 2016: American Ways. An Overview of Four Centuries of Consistent National Behavior.

Steve Millett, Ph.D.

The American people have displayed consistent patterns of behavior for more than 400 years. They have placed great value on individual merits, rights, and interests. The driving force of most Americans has been the sustained optimism of the “American Dream,” the ideal that the future will be better than the past in material and emotional terms. Americans have showed a remarkable ability to combine lofty ideals with self-interests.  In addition, they have also emphasized the importance of strong communities, especially when communities defend and support individuals. They have always placed a particular emphasis on processes, and they have had to learn to accommodate each other and resolve their conflicts without resorting to violence. The U.S. Constitution is the ultimate process, and it has failed only once: the Civil War. Looking toward the future, the success of American optimism and the management of fear rests upon the pursuit of opportunities as presented in five likely scenarios to 2050.

April 18, 2016: The History of "Radical" Movements in Islam

Jane Hathaway
Professor of History, The Ohio State University

This talk addressed the historical origins of key “radical” — or, more appropriately, puritanical or revivalist — movements in Sunni Islam. The focus was on two main strands of Sunni revivalism: Wahhabism, which originated in the mid-18th century, and the Muslim Brotherhood, which originated in the early 20th century. Both these tendencies seek to root out innovations to the practice of the original Muslim community in the 7th century, but what they regard as innovations and the ways in which they attempt to eradicate them vary widely. Discussion included a number of groups and movements that have been in the news in recent years, including Hamas, al-Qaeda, and ISIS.

March 22, 2016: How the History of Poindexter Village Challenges Popular Stereotypes about Public Housing

Patrick Potyondy
PhD Candidate, The Ohio State University

A surprising array of critics from both the political left and right agree that public housing as built has next to no redeeming features. These places are written off as havens of crime and poverty. But this is false. Like communities across the United States, the history of Columbus, Ohio’s first and all-black public housing development Poindexter Village reveals a strikingly different story. On the city’s Near East Side, African-Americans formed a neighborhood in the face of segregation, built housing, created a vibrant and supportive community, and even challenged the popular notion of historic preservation.

January 25, 2016: Making Sense of the Madness: Race, Racism, and Politics in the Age of Obama

Dr. Hasan Kwame Jeffries
Associate Professor, Department of History, The Ohio State University

Presented to the Clio Society Jan. 25, 2016 at Whetstone Library in Columbus, Ohio.

December 10, 2015: "I had the Best Childhood": Growing up in Ohio Orphanages in the 20th Century

Birgitte Søland
Associate Professor, Department of History

Presented by Assoc. Professor Birgitte Søland, Department of History at The Ohio State University. In the course of the twentieth century hundreds of thousands of American children spent part of their childhood in orphanages or children’s homes across the country. Modern understandings of life in such institutions are typically negative, associating orphanage life with the hardships encountered by fictional characters such as Oliver Twist and Orphan Annie. Surely, growing up outside the family was associated with trauma for many children, but the reality of orphanage life was often more complex. Based on 200 oral history interviews, this talk explores the experiences of more than 200 individuals who grew up in Ohio orphanages between 1920 and 1995. How do these former orphanage children recall their childhood? What is it like to come of age in an institution? Surprisingly, many of these individuals had very fond memories of their early lives, sometimes claiming that their childhoods had been close to ideal. Why did they think so? And what can we learn from their experiences that might influence present-day child welfare policies?

October 26, 2015: Devouring the Earth: How British Food Changed the World

Christopher Otter
Associate Professor

Between 1750 and 1900, the  British diet underwent significant change, becoming much richer in meat, wheat, and sugar. This talk explores a series of significant consequences of this dietary transition, including the transformation of agrarian ecologies across the globe, and the accelerated, human-driven evolution of cattle, pigs, wheat and sugar. At a national scale, this recognizably “British” diet, albeit one with regional peculiarities, provided the calorie flows necessary for the domestic labor force to power the industrial revolution. While calorie levels rose on the British mainland, there were also a growing list of dietary pathologies, from constipation, food allergy, diverticulitis and tooth decay to anorexia nervosa and obesity. Our contemporary food crises — including world hunger, the diabetes epidemic and the limits of human global carrying capacity — has a much deeper history.

April 30, 2015: Caravans: Indian Merchants on the Silk Road

Scott Levi
Associate Professor

More than a century ago, Russian Orientalists advanced a number of erroneous assumptions about Central Asian history that even today remain embedded within the “Silk Road” paradigm. This presentation illustrates how this received wisdom continues to shape our understanding of early modern Central Asian history, and how recent work in Indian history demonstrates the need to rethink these longstanding ideas and approach historical work on the Silk Road with a more critical perspective. The presentation draws on Scott Levi’s more than fifteen years of work on the subject, which has culminated in the recent publication his new book, Caravans: Indian Merchants on the Silk Road (Penguin, 2015).

April 10, 2015: Russia and the Race for the Arctic

Professor Nick Breyfogle

Global climate variations have caused unprecedented changes to the Arctic environment, especially a rapid decrease in the summer sea ice sheet. While perilous to the survival of the iconic polar bear, many humans are watching these changes with an eye to what riches an open Arctic Ocean might bring forth: in oil and gas, mining, and open-water transportation. Five countries can lay claim to the potential wealth of the Arctic Ocean: Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia, and the United States. But it is Russia and Canada in particular that have jumped out to the early lead in this new race for the Arctic. In this talk, Ohio State University History Professor Nicholas Breyfogle explores Russia's long history in the Arctic and the roots of its current assertive policies in the region.

October 28, 2014: "Is Google 'Making us Stupid?'" A Deep History and Future of the Internet

David Staley
Associate Professor

In a 2008 article in The Atlantic, Nick Carr famously asked “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”  and wondered specifically what deleterious effects the Internet is having on our brains.  Carr argued that the Internet is making us incapable of sustaining the attention necessary to read long-form articles and books.  He also points to evidence which suggests that using the Internet is rewiring our brains.

David Staley’s answer to Carr’s question is “no.”  When we place the development of the Internet in a long-term historical context, we see that what the Internet is “doing to our brains” is similar to the effects that other cognitive technologies—like art or writing—have had.  Professor Staley will evoke this deeper history, and suggest possible futures for the brain-Internet interface.

November 2, 2013: Was the Qing Dynasty "China"?

Ying Zhang
Assistant Professor

Ying Zhang, assistant professor of Chinese history, will discuss one of the most hotly debated topics among historians: whether the last dynasty, the Qing Empire (1644-1911), was "China."

Was a dynasty ruled by non-Chinese emperors a “Chinese” empire? Is it true, suggested recently inThe Wall Street Journal, that our historical understanding of the Qing dynasty has been a purely nationalistic construction by the People’s Republic of China with fictive narratives of political and geographical continuity of a Chinese empire? How do scholars and ordinary Chinese react to this approach to the history of the Qing and should such a scholarly argument be interpreted politically?

January 26, 2013: U.S.-Iraqi Relations in Historical Perspective

Peter Hahn
Professor and Chair of History

Twice since 1990, the United States initiated military action against Iraq, most recently in an invasion in 2003 that resulted in a prolonged, difficult, and costly U.S. occupation of the country. Sharing the insights of his recent book, Missions Accomplished?: The United States and Iraq since World War I (Oxford University Press, 2011), Peter Hahn will discuss the long-term development of U.S. policy toward Iraq, identify problems and challenges that the United States encountered, assess the wisdom and effectiveness of U.S. military operations, and evaluate the complex challenges currently facing the United States in Iraq.Twice since 1990, the United States initiated military action against Iraq, most recently in an invasion in 2003 that resulted in a prolonged, difficult, and costly U.S. occupation of the country. Sharing the insights of his recent book, Missions Accomplished?: The United States and Iraq since World War I (Oxford University Press, 2011), Peter Hahn will discuss the long-term development of U.S. policy toward Iraq, identify problems and challenges that the United States encountered, assess the wisdom and effectiveness of U.S. military operations, and evaluate the complex challenges currently facing the United States in Iraq.

September 16, 2011: Aristocratic Values in Republican Rome

Nathan Rosenstein
Professor of History

Many people have evoked — but have not always fully understood — the Republican values of ancient Rome, the Founding Fathers of our own republic among them. Professor Nathan Rosenstein will discuss these republican values as seen by the Romans themselves, and will consider the long-term strengths and weaknesses of those values.

May 20, 2011: The Democracy That Broke: The Continuing Relevance of the Civil War

Mark Grimsley
Associate Professor

Extremism in American political life led to the extreme actions that caused the Civil War. The Civil War challenged the idea that America was an “unbreakable union,” as that union was torn asunder. Could the extremism that seems to characterize our politics today similarly tear our union asunder? During this, the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, Professor Mark Grimsley reflects upon the War’s continuing significance in American political life.