Post-YYGS Initiative: Modern History

January 12, 2016

By: Emilie Kilfoil PLE ‘15

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Modern History is a startup that my friend from school and I created to reveal the links between current events and history lessons. We observed recurring themes in the facts that we memorized for history class and the pressing issues of our modern world, and noted the valuable connections between them. We decided that unless students learn to reference history and evaluate measures taken in the past, they will be unequipped to implement successful means of change in the future. Teachers and students are looking for simple, powerful methods for drawing these conclusions, and we wanted to help solve the problem. Modern History was therefore developed with the goal of increasing student engagement in classrooms all around the globe and preparing students for the social, political, and economic challenges that our world is facing today.

Modern History uncovers the connections between past and present events via an interactive website, promoting a more thorough understanding of modern conflicts and thus improving problem-solving skills. It encourages teachers to engage students so that they can develop necessary critical-thinking and decision-making skills to solve problems. Modern History is the start of a movement that I hope will have a profound impact on the way that history and social studies are taught and learned all over the world.

It was at the Politics, Law, and Economics session of YYGS that I realized how critical discussion is when learning about both modern and historic conflicts. Furthermore, YYGS is where I experienced the benefits of being completely immersed in conversations ranging from global societal change to solving problems in our own backyards. The environment of YYGS is unlike that of any classroom: note-taking is replaced with meaningful conversation, rote memorization is eclipsed by respectful and powerful debate. YYGS provided me with a network of international scholars who are just as passionate about education as I am, and this team of students was vital to Modern History’s success: many helped validate the hypothesis and shared their ideas of how I could improve the product. Overall, though, the group’s most helpful asset was their unending support throughout the product’s entire development. 

In November, we participated in Startup Weekend, a local business networking program, where Modern History received an honorable mention. More recently, we competed in the Global Startup Battle, an international business competition. Here Modern History won first place in the Education track, and as a result we have access to products, events, mentorship, and advising with experts at Google to help us launch the product officially. I am so excited to see how we can help engage students, improve education, and make history relevant.