Kate BjorkAssociate Professor, History and Global Studies Biography. Kate Bjork has been teaching History and Global Studies at Hamline since 2002. Before that she fulfilled a biblical term of service (7 years) as an adjunct instructor at other area colleges and universities, including the University of Minnesota, Macalester, Augsburg and Metro State University. She has also worked as a waitress, insulation installer, freelance writer, legislative researcher, teacher of English-as-a-Second-Language, and as director of public relations for a seminary. She teaches courses in Latin American history as well as courses about empires, environmental history, and the history of disease. She is particularly interested in the history of Mexico, Cuba and Puerto Rico. Her current research examines continuities in the expansion of the United States as an empire from continental North America to the overseas territories that came under U.S. influence following the Spanish-Cuban-American War. Professor Bjork earned her AB from the University of California at Berkeley in English Literature and her MA and PhD in Latin American History from the University of Chicago. Teaching Style How do we know what we think we know about the past? Why are popular conceptions of history sometimes difficult to reconcile with the "facts"? (What is a historical fact anyway?) These are some of the questions that guide inquiry in Kate Bjork's classes. Recognizing, critiquing, and making and defending their own historical arguments is also an important part of classroom learning. To help students develop their critical thinking skills in historical argumentation Professor Bjork often builds courses and themes around student-led debates. "The past can--can and should--surprise us. At its best history is about challenging the commonsense assumptions of retrospective reasoning so prevalent in the stories we tell ourselves about what happened, why, and what it means."