Gary Mills is Associate Professor of History Education. After a career teaching in secondary schools, he became an academic and joined the University in 2001. For many years, he led the History PGCE course, and developed an exchange programme for postgraduate history education students with the University of Connecticut. He teaches across a number of MA courses, supervises PhD and EdD students, and is the module leader for the BA course 'History of Education'. Prior to his appointment at Nottingham, Gary was a History Education Tutor at the University of Oxford, and whilst teaching in schools he worked closely with the PGCE course at the University of Cambridge.
Gary's research interests are centred on the teaching of the Holocaust and other genocides. He has held research awards from The British Council to work with history teachers in Rwanda, and is currently a theme leader and Co-I on two AHRC-funded projects exploring the use of Holocaust and Nazi photography in classroom settings. With US colleagues he also holds a Spencer Foundation award researching the use of Virtual Interactive Holocaust Survivor Testimony in museums and classrooms. Recently, with colleagues from the Maximillian University Munich, he has help develop a new network of international scholars - Technology Meets Testimony [TMT] - investigating the future of Holocaust survivor testimonies. Gary is Chair of the Academic Advisory Board and Education Advisor at The National Holocaust Centre and Museum.
He has held external examining positions at Anglia Ruskin University, Edge Hill University, Keele University, University of Warwick, University of Leeds and been a panel member for the validation of teacher education courses in Northern Ireland.
Gary teaches on the History PGCE course and also supervises MA dissertation and PhD and EdD students. In addition, he convenes the undergraduate module 'History of Education'. Back in 2014, he was… read more
Gary's current research focuses on two key aspects of teaching about the Holocaust and other 'difficult' histories: the use of photographs, and the use of testimony in classrooms and museum settings.
As Co-I on the AHRC research project 'Photography as Political Practice in National Socialism', directed by Maiken Umbach (History), and supported by the National Holocaust Centre and Museum, Gary works with a team to explore what photography may tell us about the history of National Socialism and the Holocaust. (see https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/humanities/departments/history/research/research-projects/current-projects/photography-as-political-practice/photography-as-political-practice-in-national-socialism.aspx). For a new generation of "primarily visual learners", photos are important pedagogic tools, that draw them into this history, and which elicit strong emotional reactions. But the use of photos is also riddled with problems, involving problematic selections, misleading captioning, and, most of all, a failure to interrogate photography as a problematic and often biased historical source in its own right. Gary is now exploring alternatives, focusing on how the photographs can be used to develop better understandings of the Holocaust, how these images shape curriculum thinking and planning, and how this translates into pedagogical approaches in classrooms and museum settings. This includes empirical research on photos in history textbooks and on digital images in classrooms, but also on creating new teaching resources that address current problems.
During the development of this project, further funding by Arts Council England enabled the development and curation of an exhibition 'The Eye as Witness' https://witness.holocaust.org.uk/exhibition and a chance to explore new ways through which people engage with and view photographs. The recent development of a web-based version of the exhibition will enable further research to be conducted with pupils and teachers on how the use of images develops not just understandings about the Holocaust but also about the ways that images are presented and used in the media today.
Gary's second area of work involves examining the use of testimony in classrooms. He was a steering group member and theme lead (Education) for 'Culture and its Uses as Testimony': an AHRC-funded Research Network (https://cultureastestimony.wordpress.com/). One key output for the projects has been the development of new teaching resources (https://cultureastestimony.wordpress.com/teaching-resources/) and a chapter in a forthcoming edited book, The Palgrave Handbook of Testimony and Cultureentitled 'Using testimony in classrooms. Perspectives on past, present and future practices'.
Moreover, with colleagues from the US, Gary is researching the use of Virtual Interactive Holocaust Survivor Testimony in museums and classroom; a Spencer Foundation grant enables the team to work on this new area of Holocaust education with the National Holocaust Centre in the UK and the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Centre, Chicago.
Finally, Gary has recently been involved in developing links with colleagues at the Maximillian University in Munich and helped establish 'Technology Meets Testimony [TMT]', an international and interdisciplinary research network investigating the future of Holocaust survivor testimonies.