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Visitors to the Imperial & Global Forum have doubled this year.

Academics celebrate social media success

University of Exeter academics are celebrating the success of their use of social media to help the public connect the past with the present.

Visitors to the Imperial & Global Forum, the blog of the Centre for Imperial and Global History at the Department of History, have doubled this year.

The blog was founded two years ago and is edited by Dr Marc-William Palen, lecturer in imperial history at the University of Exeter. It now has a substantial global following, with as many as 2,000 views per day and over 6,000 subscribers. During 2015 it has had about 70,000 visitors from across the globe, double the number of visitors from 2014.

The site features expert historical analysis and commentary, the best content about imperial and global history from the internet, as well as book reviews and opinion pieces by centre staff and postgraduates. It also features the Talking Empire podcast series, hosted by Professor Richard Toye. The podcasts include discussions with centre staff concerning key controversies in imperial history. The podcasts are designed in part to support students on the free online University of Exeter course, Empire: The Controversies of British Imperialism, which has received a commendation from the Royal Historical Society for its contributions to public history.

As a testament to the Imperial & Global Forum’s international impact, the blog was recently endorsed by the prestigious history and policy blog Origins as being among the “best of history online”.

Editor Dr Marc-William Palen said: “The feedback we have received from readers and contributors has been wonderful. We started from scratch two years ago and the blog has gone from strength to strength, to the extent that we now have a substantial global following. We are delighted the blog now has received this gracious acknowledgement from Origins, and we hope this will bring it to the attention of even more people.

“We hope the blog will grow and develop further during 2016. Its success so far has been thanks to the hard work of staff from the centre. As a team, we have worked hard to make the blog accessible and engaging so that its audience includes scholars and specialists in the field as well as the public.

“Analysis and reportage of current affairs often doesn’t provide a historical perspective, and it can be hard for the voices of historians to be heard. The blog gives historians a much-needed global platform to connect contemporary controversies with the imperial past.”

Professor Janice Kay, Provost and Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Exeter, said: “Imperial & Global Forum is a hugely important blog that features some of the very best history on-line. It highlights the critical importance of history and other arts and humanities to our lives and for society today and the future.”

The most popular blog entries so far have been a piece on the colonial origins of the Greek financial bailout by the EU, and another which debunked myths about key international events during the US Civil War. During December the blog will feature the top ten posts from 2015.

Date: 14 December 2015

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