Paving the Way

History Professor Vikki Deakin Organizes Clubs, Uses Research to Improve Education

Associate history professor Vikki Deakin has been instrumental in implementing change in the history department, from pushing students to learn foreign languages to putting together information about graduate studies and the professional market for history majors. Her work affects every history student in some way.

She organized the history club because she wanted students to have an extracurricular activity involving history even if circumstances prevented them from participating in Phi Alpha Theta, the national history honor society.

Deakin said she loves Weber State for its small class sizes and for the opportunity to interact with students majoring in history. “They are really bright,” she said, “and they always challenge me to bring my ‘A’ game.”

Since her first semester at WSU in fall 2005, Deakin has taught classes that span the history of the United States and explore the workings of religion and race in shaping the nation.

Intellectual history is Deakin’s main research focus, especially the intellectual history of the American founding. She has written a book and several papers on English and American political activist Thomas Paine and is currently working on a new manuscript that will explore the definition of citizenship in the 18th century British Transatlantic. This past summer, she studied the topic as a research fellow at the University of Michigan’s William L. Clements Library. There, she studied one of the best collections of 18th century documents in the country.
“I took pictures of some emancipation documents that are very powerful. In my Constitution class, my discussions about the 14th Amendment have been reshaped by my understanding of how significant it was that we could, as a nation, develop a birthright definition of citizenship in the 19th century,” she said.
Deakin's colleagues in the Department of History have influenced her greatly. “We are an active, engaged group of scholars and that helps us fuel one another to stay current in our fields and to publish where we can, which is not easy given our heavy course loads,” she said.
In October 2012, she organized a conference for the Front Range Early American Consortium. The group brings together scholars of early American history from universities in Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona and Idaho to present papers and manuscript projects and to discuss the science and art of teaching.

Outside of the academic world, Deakin likes to try new restaurants and watch movies and football with her husband. She also adores music. “As much as I love reading, and as much of a history geek as I am, if I had to choose between books and music — music would win every time, hands down.”