B. A. – Political Science – Lincoln University
J. D. – Law – University of Pittsburgh
M. A. – History of the Book in America – Drew University
M.Phil. – Philosophy of History – Drew University
Ph.D. – Modern History and Literature – Drew University
Michael Benjamin, Ph.D.Assistant professor of History Teaching since 2009
Dr. Michael Benjamin, an assistant professor of History at Armstrong, started his career as an attorney, serving as a successful civil litigator in Philadelphia.
“My interest in history evolved over the years,” he explains. “I’ve always been interested in books as objects and artifacts.”
This dedicated scholar decided to switch careers and return to school, earning an M.A. in the History of the Book in America, an M. Phil. in the Philosophy of History and a Ph.D. in Modern History and Literature from Drew University in Madison, N.J. He taught at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Mich. and Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Ohio before joining the faculty at Armstrong five years ago.
In the classroom, Benjamin is an energetic professor who encourages students to think bigger and dig deeper in classes like Political and Constitutional History of Georgia and the United States, African American History, Public History, Archival Methods, The Harlem Renaissance and Topics in African American History.
“I encourage a critical thinking approach and invite students to look at forces beneath the surface that contribute to our day-to-day experiences,” he says.
This accomplished faculty member sees a number of parallels between practicing law and teaching history.
“The practice of trial law, in certain aspects, is not unlike the work of a historian,” he explains. “Historians, like trial lawyers, are concerned with ‘evidence’ and use that evidence to form ‘arguments’ in an attempt to persuade others of their position.”
Benjamin involves students in his ongoing research focusing on the Encyclopedia Africana and has a deep passion for African-American history. This summer, he presented a paper at the Université Paris-Sorbonne in France and conducted research in New York and Washington, D.C., but he feels most at home in the classroom at Armstrong, where he appreciates the rich diversity among the university’s student population.
“I love the students at Armstrong because they challenge me in a variety of ways,” he explains. “I often find myself serving as a mentor and providing models for career choices for students. I enjoy the interaction and the give and take. It’s very satisfying.”