Meet the Professors: A Series cont.

Professor: Professor Peter Kastor

Department: History

Position: History Department Chair


I wasn’t sure what to expect when I walked into my freshman seminar class. Surely it would be small (it was! 18 people total) and surely I’d have to participate (I did). But there was so much more. The class was called “The Presidency 101: From Washington to Obama” and was incredibly timely, as simultaneously the general election was taking place, and midway through the semester, WashU held the 2nd  Presidential debate. So while I was learning about the Executive branch’s use of media to shape a message, I would leave Seigle Hall to find FOX, MSNBC, and CNN all broadcasting from various places on campus. Talk about learning both in and outside of the classroom!

I didn’t expect to get anything special for this freshman seminar; who would want to spend 1.5 hours two times a week with 18 freshmen? Imagine my surprise when I found out that our professor, Professor Kastor, is the History Department Chair. This class was one of two that he would end up teaching all year and one that he always made sure to teach.

Whenever he would be interviewed by radio stations, he asked the interviewers to first come to our class. I ended up being interviewed along with a few students and featured on St. Louis Public Radio! Dale Singer, the reporter, even talked to our class about his experiences reporting in St. Louis about previous elections. It was such an amazing opportunity that Professor Kastor was able to bring to us.

Professor Kastor was also infinitely knowledgeable about so many other topics. We had brief (or kind of long) class digressions into the history of the internet and various political shows. He was also very willing to share details of his personal research with us. For an assignment we looked at data that he had collected/transcribed/digitized and had to come up with (very basic) inquiries about the data we had.

Professor Kastor’s active involvement and investment in our freshman seminar was an integral part of my freshman academic experience that I found to be truly invaluable.