Springfield, Ohio — Associate Professor of History and Department Chair Molly Wood has shared her academic passion with the Wittenberg community for more than decade. Recently, she was asked to share her expertise through a blog for the prestigious Society of Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR).
Her third, and most recent, blog post is titled “The State Department Wants You! (or does it?)” Posted Monday, Nov. 23, the post explores the challenges of recruiting and training Americans for State Department positions overseas while the U.S. is engaged in two wars. All blog entries by Wood can be found at theSHAFR Web site.
SHAFR re-launched its Web site in 2009, adding many new features, such as blogs and op-eds by prominent members. The goal for the new blog section is to highlight “thoughtful, informed and often provocative historical perspectives on foreign relations issues in the news today,” according to the SHAFR Web site.
Wood was invited to blog about a range of topics of her choosing, and she was asked to post at least one entry per month. Wood said her objective is to produce interesting material that catches the attention of SHAFR members, teachers, students and the media.
“[Blogging] allows me to address topics of current interest more readily than I usually can, and it’s much more informal than the academic writing I usually produce,” Wood said.
Many of her writings have been published in academic journals such as Diplomatic History and The Journal of Women’s History, but these scholarly articles can take up to two years to be published. Blogs are posted as soon as they are written, providing much greater timeliness. Blogging also provides Wood with a sense of freedom that she isn’t used to experiencing with her writing.
“[It's opinion based,] which allows me to think about and write about topics beyond my usual academic pursuits,” she said.
While blogging enables Wood to explore topics beyond her customary fields of research, it also keeps her connected to her primary academic pursuits, including United States foreign relations, the history of U.S. involvement in global affairs, and the ways in which the U.S. has interacted with other regions of the world.
In her first blog entry, titled “Was Julia a Spy?” Wood expanded on popular interest in the recently released film Julie and Julia. Wood investigated recently declassified documents on the National Archives Web site to explore Julia Child’s employment, prior to her famed culinary career, in the Office of Strategic Services in China during World War II. Her second blog placed the recent Nobel Peace Prize awarded to President Barack Obama in historical perspective by looking at other controversial American winners of the prize, including Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Henry Kissinger.
Wood said blogging has proven more difficult than she expected, but she has benefited from the experience.
“It has pushed me to think more deeply about the historical connections to current foreign policy and international relations,” she said, adding that she anticipates that her increased attention to foreign policy issues will be useful to her in the spring when she offers a new course on the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Wood joined the Wittenberg faculty in August 1999 and teaches courses in U.S. history, U.S. foreign relations, modern world history, women’s history and Latin American history. She earned a Ph.D. at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, S.C., a master’s degree in history from the University of Richmond and a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Virginia.