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Professor brings past to life with today's digital tools

Mark Tebeau
September 26, 2013

As an urban historian with who specializes in digital and public history, Mark Tebeau is helping bring the past to life for cities and cultural organizations throughout the country, using today’s digital tools. In the process he is engaging citizens, building public audiences for history.

An associate professor of history in the School of History, Philosophy and Religious Studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Tebeau recently helped develop a framework for mobile publishing that is being licensed worldwide to help communities, preservationists and scholars publish location-based content on cities and landscapes through mobile apps.

As founding director of the Center for Public History and Digital History at Cleveland State University, Tebeau led a team that developed Curatescape, which is being used by more than 20 organizations throughout the country, including the Smithsonian Gardens. The project was funded by the National Institute for the Humanities.

Citizens and others produce stories about their cities, linking them to the site. Of the more than 500 stories on the Cleveland Historical mobile app (, more than half were created by undergraduates in Tebeau’s classes.

“My hope is that research will help to transform how our society learns, explores and represents its historical understandings,” says Tebeau. “I also hope that by making these projects community focused, we’ll encourage a deeper engagement in civic life.”

A graduate of the University of Chicago and Carnegie Mellon, Tebeau says he came to ASU to serve as director of public history because of its commitment to innovation and entrepreneurial scholarship. He hopes to work with ASU students on collaborative research, obtaining a deeper understanding of the Salt River Valley.

“Great teaching is about building great collaborative projects, engaging students in real-world research and experiential learning. This builds the skills necessary to engage in a variety of exciting careers in diverse fields ranging from marketing and advertising to consulting and policymaking or to digital production and museums.”