Dr. Joseph U. Lenti, Ph.D.
Professor of History, Graduate Advisor, He/him/his
- Ph.D. Latin American History – University of New Mexico, 2011
- M.A. Latin American History – University of New Mexico, 2005
- B.S. History – Northeastern University, 2001
I have been fortunate to use my career to pursue my personal and research passions. I have broadened my love and knowledge of Latin American history and culture through years of living and researching abroad in Mexico and extensively traveling through Costa Rica, Colombia and Cuba. I have written on subjects ranging from unionism to political populism in Mexico, and most notably, published "Redeeming the Revolution: Organized Labor and the State in Post-Tlatelolco Mexico" (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2017). In recent years, the personal and political forces that have surfaced in my life have sparked new research interests in me, and I am now deep into a book project that comparatively assesses the historical processes and outcomes of land dispossession, land invasion and informal settlements in Mexico and Costa Rica. Through publications and academic and public presentations, this research has already shed light on these interrelated stories in Latin America, and I am hopeful that the project, albeit a historical analysis, will also have contemporary salience. If my research influences the behaviors of politicians, city planners or urban activists who are currently dealing with these intractable problems, or if it helps to mitigate the difficulties of migrants or the urban poor of Latin America in any small way, it will be a success.
Apart from my research accomplishments, I cherish my experiences in the classroom. My teaching philosophy originates from my experience as a university student who felt inferior as he purchased books, thought he couldn’t read and scanned syllabi he thought he couldn’t follow. Like many of my students today, I was a first-generation college student from an immigrant and blue-collar background who needed acculturation into college life before attempting to tackle the content of my classes. Fortunately, I thrived in college, benefiting as much from my instructors’ pedagogical skills as from my commitment to succeed. I was enthralled by my education, my history courses most of all, and I have since desired to instill that same love of learning in my own students. I have fostered excitement and enthusiasm for the course material I teach by creating opportunities for my students to engage with their community or diverse outside communities in academic and cultural venues. Lastly, conferences, colloquia and international research excursions I’ve organized have opened spaces for dialog between students and activists, artists, politicians and community members, altering their world views while also advancing basic humanistic values through education.
In which online degree program do you teach?
In what ways do you connect with online students?
I aspire to recreate the in-person and "human" experience as much as possible in the online classroom. Forasmuch, you will use your webcam and other video applications to record yourself and visually present your ideas to your peers.
What do you want your students to take away from class?
Students in my MA courses will be taught and required to:
- Understand historical studies, including historical methodology and selected aspects of modern historiography
- Demonstrate factual and bibliographic mastery and the ability to interpret institutional and cultural change in multiple historical fields
- Conduct library and archival research, using both paper and digital resources, and write graduate-level research papers
- Think critically about historical information and historical problems
What is the value of an advanced degree in today’s work environment?
More than just a raise at your next job, an advanced degree in history is your passport to a new frontier of possibilities. Certainly, you'll learn the skills of the professional historian here, and these skills will make you a more valuable asset in almost any sector you desire to work in. But the most lasting thing you'll take away from this MA program is a dramatically altered view of the present, one borne from your intense reading, research and discussion of the past—and your place in it.