Alan Christy named provost of Cowell College

Alan Christy
Associate professor of history Alan Christy
Associate professor of history Alan Christy has been named the new provost of Cowell College, effective July 1, 2016.

Christy joined the History Department at UC Santa Cruz in 1995 as a specialist in Japanese and modern East Asian history. He served as the inaugural History Department undergraduate director, and for many years he has been the director of the East Asian Studies minor.

“I am especially drawn to Cowell College for its esteemed place in the history of the campus, for its core course theme of ‘Imagining Justice,’ and for the college’s motto: ‘The Pursuit of Truth in the Company of Friends,’" Christy noted.

“Much of my teaching and research is devoted to the question of the relationship of historical knowledge to contemporary restorative justice,” he added.

Christy won the Dizikes Faculty Teaching Award in the Humanities in 2012 and The Excellence in Teaching Award in 2014. He emphasizes the value of experiential learning and collaboration, and he is committed to the idea of a liberal arts education--interdisciplinary learning with a global reach.

Christy is perhaps best known for the large class he teaches with associate history professor and Stevenson College provost Alice Yang, “Memories of WWII in the Pacific.” In this course, the students explore, through assigned readings and their own research projects, the many ways that changing perceptions of World War II have shaped the postwar world.

“We try to bridge the perceived gap between the classroom and the broader world,” said Christy. “I’m really happy that so many students have come to take this class year after year.”

For the past five years, Christy has led large-scale collaborative public history research projects involving teams of faculty, staff and students here, as well as working with partners in Japan. His current effort, The Gail Project, employs a set of photographs--taken in Okinawa in 1952 by an American army captain--to explore the history of postwar Okinawan and American relationships under American military occupation.

Christy received his B.A. at Carleton College in 1985 and his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1996, in addition to conducting four years of fieldwork in rural Japan through Kanagawa University.

He will succeed Faye Crosby, who has served as provost of Cowell College for the past six years