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May 8, 2024

Past of Present Assignment

Past of Present Assignment

You will submit this assignment via the Turnitin assignment area on MyHills. The assignment should be 300-400 words, typed and double-spaced.

Due dates

See the course schedule.

Submit via MyHills in the Past of the Present area of the course menu. You are welcome to submit them early.


One of the things I would like you to get out of this class is a sense of historical context and how that context shapes the world in which we live. Think about it as “the past of the present.”

Past of Present Assignment


  1. Choose a news article about a current event. The article should be no more than 2 months Provide the title and a link to the article you’ve chosen at the top of the page.
  2. Summarize the article in a few
  3. For the majority of the assignment, explain how what you’ve learned in class or in the textbook helped you to better understand the In other words, connect it to the class with specific examples and citations from the course materials. If it’s from the textbook, include a page number. If it’s from the learning units, give the name of the video, mini-lecture, audio, or handout.

Past of Present Assignment

Here are some examples of questions you might ask yourself: How do our course materials help me understand the context (background) of this news story? How are the events described in the story related to a topic we’ve studied in class—what are the similarities and what are the differences? As Mark Twain said, “history doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.” No two events or people are “just like” each other. Is this event part of a larger historical pattern? How might an understanding of history change the outcome of the events described in the story?

The best articles will allow you to make logical connections. If you find yourself really stretching, you should find another article. Try to find a modern-day story that you can connect to the historical background you’ve learned in class. A lengthy article centered on a historical event or book would not be a good example of a news article because it would be hard to find enough new details from your course materials to provide background. The best article choices are organic. They find something recent and in the headlines. Ideally, it would not look like you did a Google News search on some topic we’ve covered, like WWI, and found an article from two months ago. Choose an article from a news source, not a website for an organization, encyclopedia/reference, or similar page.

Past of Present Assignment

News Sources:

I must admit, part of the point of the assignment is to get you to engage with the news if you’re not doing so already, so the most organic way to do this is just check the news every day and keep your eyes peeled and ears tuned. As backup, here are a few suggestions for news sources that have reporters out in the field. You do not have to use one from this list. If you have any doubts about your news source, run it past me and/or check it against the news database on MyHills.

Local newspapers, of course: The Ottumwa Courier, Oskaloosa Herald, Fairfield Ledger/Southeast Iowa Union, Daily Iowegian, Bloomfield Democrat, Albia News, etc.

Associated Press: https://www.ap.org/en-us/ Reuters http://www.reuters.com/

National Public Radio www.npr.org

The Christian Science Monitor http://www.csmonitor.com/ BBC World News http://www.bbc.com/news

The Guardian (UK or US editions) https://www.theguardian.com/us

The New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/

The Washington Post https://www.washingtonpost.com/ 

Past of Present Assignment

Foreign Policy http://foreignpolicy.com

Politico https://www.politico.com/

The Hill https://thehill.com/

Smithsonian Magazine: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/

National Geographic: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/ Archeology Magazine: https://www.archaeology.org/

Do not use the History Channel (www.history.com); it’s not a news source.

Past of Present Assignment


Besides the news article, you should only use your class notes and textbook, not outside sources. The point of the assignment is to demonstrate that you can organize and apply what you’re learning in class to a current event. Cite all your sources. MLA or APA is fine. Chicago Style is standard for history, but frankly, it’s fairly complex and not something you’ll use again unless you become a history major. Google “Purdue OWL citation” for an explanation of citation styles.

As always, if you need help, don’t hesitate to contact me.

For writing assistance, go to an IHCC Success Center or NetTutor on our MyHills page. In either case, choose a writing tutor rather than a history tutor. Do not use websites that edit your paper for you using AI.

Review the policies on Academic Integrity in the course syllabus. The work needs to come from your brain, not internet tools.