Eastern Michigan University names director of the Jiu-Hwa Lo Upshur Institute for Civic Education

New director will launch civic education through multiple platforms to bridge the knowledge gap

The Pray-Harrold Building lit by the evening sun
(EMU file photo)
Brigid Beaubien
Brigid Beaubien

YPSILANTI – Brigid Beaubien, teacher education professor at Eastern Michigan University, was recently named the new director of the Department of History & Philosophy’s Jiu-Hwa Lo Upshur Institute for Civic Education. The institute will promote transformative methods for educating history and social studies students, encourage innovative teaching approaches, and help foster a new generation of engaged educators across Michigan high schools and colleges.

The Jiu-Hwa Lo Upshur Institute for Civic Education, sponsored by a $500,000 endowment, is one of three significant gifts to Give Rise, Eastern’s fundraising campaign, initiated by Jiu-Hwa Lo Upshur, former EMU history faculty member. Professor Upshur’s generosity commemorates her 35 years of distinguished teaching and scholarship at EMU and her strong commitment to international education and scholarly breadth -- encompassing Chinese history, political science, anthropology, art, and Mesoamerican culture.

“The Upshur Institute will place Eastern Michigan University at the center of vital conversations regarding civics education in Michigan and beyond,” said Dana Heller, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Eastern.

According to Beaubien, the institute is critical at a time when support for civic education needs to catch up in schools. “A civic education deficit has been decades in the making as funding resources and class instruction have been shifted to meet the demands of high-stakes tests and topics in STEM,” said Beaubien. “The federal government spends $50 per year per student on STEM education and only 5 cents per year on civics education.”

Beaubien said the institute’s initial focus is promoting civic education on EMU’s campus through events, speakers, faculty professional development, and funding innovative history, social studies, and civic teaching methods, eventually building a P-12 educators' supportive network.

“Professor Beaubien’s vision for the Upshur Institute is inspiring, and her energy, experience, and scholarly background in civic education ensure that she will bring the center to national prominence,” said Peter Higgins, department head of history and philosophy at Eastern. “EMU’s Department of History and Philosophy and the Upshur Institute Advisory Board are tremendously excited and grateful for her leadership.”

“When civic education is missing, students and citizens lack the tools to decipher facts and their ability to address societal problems,” said Beaubien. “I’m thrilled to lead this effort when our society is experiencing a desire to learn more about civic education.”

Professor Beaubien teaches elementary social studies methods courses at EMU. Her research focuses on the history of education. She has received many awards, authored journals, and presented at more than 50 national conferences. Before coming to EMU, Beaubien was a Detroit Public Schools teacher and a public school administrator.


About Eastern Michigan University
Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 14,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and its graduate school. National publications regularly recognize EMU for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. Visit the University’s
rankings and points of pride websites to learn more. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website. To stay up to date on University news, activities and announcements, visit EMU Today.

April 26, 2023

Written by:
Melissa Thrasher

Media Contact:
Melissa Thrasher