IRVINE : History Professor to Head Institute

A history professor at UC Irvine has been named to head a University of California systemwide humanities research institute, officials said Thursday.

Patricia O’Brien, a specialist in the history of modern France, 19th- and 20th-Century Europe and social and cultural history, will serve a five-year term as director of the UC Humanities Research Institute. The institute is based at UCI, university spokesman Scott Nelson said.

As director, O’Brien will try to raise money to expand research at the institute and reach out to other UC campuses, Nelson said. She will also emphasize a better relationship between teaching and research.

Founded in 1987, the institute promotes events and talks that might not be found in classical humanities courses and academic disciplines such as language, philosophy and literature, Nelson said. The institute encourages academics at universities to come up with creative conferences and join together in groups to discuss ethics, culture and other issues.


The Minority Discourse Initiative--the first systematic comparative study of minority issues in Orange County--is among the institute’s recent activities.

O’Brien has also served as acting vice chancellor for research and acting dean of graduate studies at UCI.