New Orleans— The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH) is establishing a statewide educational hub providing reliable, accessible Louisiana social studies resources to students and their teachers.
In its first three years the Institute for Louisiana Culture and History, made possible by a $900,000 grant from the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation, will train 400 teachers in Louisiana history and the use of LEH’s online encyclopedia, 64parishes.org, in the classroom. In addition, the institute will produce 300 new encyclopedia entries and add as many as 900 new photos and media to the site.
“Our students need to learn about Louisiana’s culture and history, and there is no better organization than the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities to prepare materials for teaching students about Louisiana history,” said Dr. James Callier, vice president and executive director of the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation. “They are in the best position to promote Louisiana culture and history by working to provide resources for teachers to use in their classrooms and for students to access, both in class and online.”
The Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE), one of LEH’s partners on the encyclopedia expansion, has introduced new social studies standards going into full effect in the 2023–24 school year. The new course frameworks will expand the study of Louisiana history and culture in the state’s public schools from third and eighth grade to nearly every grade. Together, LEH and LDOE will map these new social studies standards to the content on 64parishes.org and create grade-level appropriate adaptations of key resources.
More than 50,000 eighth-graders each year already have access to this online resource as part of their Louisiana history classes. The institute will both expand the existing content on the site and develop a new search function that allows students and teachers to search the encyclopedia for grade-level aligned content for Louisiana social studies classrooms.
In addition to these online resources, the institute will host four regional educator workshops, which will provide in-depth social studies content training to as many as 400 Louisiana educators, in both the 2023–24 and 2024–25 school years. The workshops will bring together recognized historians, scholars and curricula authors to engage educators about key Louisiana history and culture topics found in the 64parishes.org encyclopedia.
“Supporting Louisiana’s educators has been an important part of LEH’s work for more than 30 years” said Miranda Restovic, president and executive director of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. “This new initiative builds on programs such as Prime Time, which support educators in implementing the Socratic method and effective parent engagement strategies, or our work in delivering Teaching American History Institutes. It’s all a part of our mission to ensure educators and students in every parish and every school district have the tools and resources they need to engage and to learn.”
The institute will provide additional training through summer intensive courses, which will offer approximately 30 educators annually the opportunity to learn from and interact with nationally known historians and scholars, take field trips promoting experiential learning and participate in social studies working sessions at The Helis Foundation John Scott Center, opening later this year at the LEH’s headquarters in New Orleans. The institute will provide a stipend for teachers for all trainings.
LEH Vice President of Public Programs and 64parishes.org Editor-in-Chief Dr. Erin Greenwald, a historian of Louisiana history, also served on the state’s social studies standards review committee.
“Studying history helps us understand complex questions about who we are and how the past has shaped, and continues to shape, society at the local, regional and national levels,” Greenwald said. “However, too many young people in Louisiana lack productive avenues for historical and civic engagement. Expanding our catalog of high-quality history and culture resources and bringing trainings directly to the educators impacting the next generation of Louisiana leaders will be the lasting legacy of the institute.”
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