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Ingo Heidbrink Elected President of International Maritime History Association

By Amy Matzke-Fawcett

An Old Dominion University history professor has been elected president of a prestigious international society, the only one in the world of its type.

Ingo Heidbrink, chair of the Department of History, has been chosen by his peers to lead the International Maritime History Association through 2024. The association is the flagship organization for maritime historians across the world.

Heidbrink said he's excited and honored to have been elected, and that he sees it as an opportunity for the organization to grow.

"Maritime history is more than just a study of historical structures," Heidbrink said. "It helps us to understand the traditions and identities that shaped modern maritime routes and relations."

Maritime history is deeply connected to today's shipping industry, with routes and ports shaped by many factors, Heidbrink noted. Many fields have maritime components, and part of the IMHA's goal during his presidency will be to bring in historians who may not work exclusively in maritime history, but in the many fields that touch on it, including the history of technology and economic development.

"If you're thinking about simple trade relations between countries, there is navigation on the ocean, of course, but really there are ports and nations on each side with history," Heidbrink said. "It's really a function of a network bringing people together as it has for thousands of years."

The election also points to ODU's strength in the field; the university is one of few in the United States with a certificate in maritime history, allowing for both traditional and non-traditional students to learn the field while pursuing related degrees or working full time. The university's recent growth in maritime studies, including a new major in maritime and supply chain management and the recently announced School of Supply Chain, Logistics and Maritime Operations, blends well with the historical base of technology and economic development, Heidbrink said.

Heidbrink's election is well-deserved, said Laura Delbrugge, dean of the College of Arts and Letters.

"Dr. Heidbrink is a leader in his field, and this recognition by his colleagues recognizes his career of research and teaching at a high level," Delbrugge said. "We in the college congratulate him on his election and look forward to seeing what he can accomplish during his tenure."

Heidbrink said the IMHA will focus on more regular cooperation with universities to allow for research collaboration in a post-COVID academic landscape, and organizing the society's quadrennial conference in Busan, South Korea in 2024. As with many organizations, the lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic forced the organization to hold more online meetings. This has led to stronger collaborations and opportunities for research, for which Heidbrink says he is thankful.

To learn more about the IMHA or its peer-reviewed journal, The International Journal of Maritime History, visit https://imha.info.

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