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Dr Amy McKernan


Amy completed a Master of Teaching (Secondary) degree in 2011, specialising in teaching History, English as an Additional Language, and English. Her final research project for the masters, along with her other academic achievements, earned her a place in the Graduate School of Education's Doctor of Philosophy degree at the University of Melbourne. Her doctoral studies were funded by an Australian Postgraduate Award scholarship, and she received further awards to support conference travel and interstate field work. 

Her success as a doctoral candidate meant that she was well-placed to gain employment in her field, and she took up a position at the University of Melbourne just prior to the completion of her PhD in 2016. In this role, she published in a number of highly ranked journals and edited books, won several competitive research grants, and consistently received excellent quality of teaching survey results from students. 



University of Melbourne


University of Melbourne


University of Melbourne

Doctor of Philosophy 

Amy's thesis, entitled Uncomfortable histories: Learning with contentious and confronting histories in Australian museums, examines the uses of ‘uncomfortable’ histories of trauma, injustice and discrimination in museum and history learning. Case studies of three museum institutions (Museum Victoria, the Australian War Memorial and the Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority) consider the affective and emotional dimensions of learning in heterotopian spaces. The thesis argues for a considered representation of contentious and confronting histories, and highlights the scope for such representations to contribute to teaching and learning for social inclusion and cultural recognition. Available at

Master of Teaching (Secondary)

Learning areas: History, English as an Additional Language, English (Additional)

The thesis, entitled, Thinking historically in the Immigration Museum explores the ways Melbourne’s Immigration Museum’s exhibitions work to foster historical thinking in young visitors, and highlights the value of museums as resources for teachers of history, linking to relevant curriculum for Australian history.

Bachelor of Arts

Major: History

Publications & presentations

Publications (refereed)


Dulfer, N., Kriewaldt, J., & McKernan, A. (in press). 'Using collaborative action research to enhance differentiation.' International Journal of Inclusive Education.

McKernan, A. (in press). ‘The Heterotopia and the palimpsest: Reading the layers of the Immigration Museum, Melbourne.’ In Temporality and Place in Educational Research: Looking Beyond Local/Global Binaries, edited by J. McLeod, K. O’Connor, and A. McKernan. Routledge.


López López, L., McCaw, C., Di Biase, R., McKernan, A., Rudolph, S., Galatis, A., Dulfer, N., Gerrard, J., McKinley, E., McLeod, J., & Rizvi, F. (2020). 'The Quarantine Archives: Educators in “Social Isolation”.' History of Education Review 49(2): 195-213.


McKernan, A. (2020). ‘“A little more courageous”: cultural recognition and histories of migration and diversity at the Immigration Museum, Melbourne.’ Museum Management and Curatorship 35(1): 2-14, doi:


McKernan, A. & McLeod, J. (2018). ‘Commemoration, affective practice and the difficult histories of war.’ In Emotion, Affective Practices and the Past in the Present, edited by L. Smith, M. Wetherell, and G. Campbell, pp. 56-69. Oxon and New York: Routledge.


McKernan, A. (2018). ‘Affective practices and the prison visit: Learning at Port Arthur and the Cascades Female Factory.’ History of Education Review 47(2): 131-142. [Winner Emerald Publishing Awards for Excellence, Outstanding Paper 2019]. Open access:


McKernan, A. (2017). ‘Discomfort at the Australian War Memorial: Learning the trauma of war.’ History Australia 14(1): 99-114.


McKernan, A. (2015). ‘Thinking historically in the Immigration Museum’. Agora 50(4): 4-11.


Publications (non-refereed)


McKernan, A. and Oldham, S. (2019). Confronting Histories and the Learner Profile. Report to the International Baccalaureate Organisation. Available at:


McKernan, A. (2018). ‘Civics and citizenship education in Australia: challenges, practices and international perspectives, edited by Andrew Peterson and Libby Tudball [Book review].’ Journal of Education for Teaching 44(4): 521-522.


McKernan, A. (2017). Uncomfortable Histories: Learning with contested and confronting histories in Australian museums (PhD thesis). Melbourne Graduate School of Education & School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne.


Dulfer, N., McKernan, A. and Brindle, K. (2017). Different countries, different approaches to teaching and learning (Jeff Thompson project report). Report to the International Baccalaureate Organisation. Available at:


McKernan, A. (2017). ‘Childhood, youth and emotions in modern history: national, global and colonial perspectives, edited by Stephanie Olsen [Book review].’ History of Education 47(3): 432-433.


Flottman, R., McKernan, A., Church, A. & Tayler, C. Practice Principle 2: Partnerships with professionals [Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework Evidence Paper]. Department of Education and Early Childhood Education, Melbourne.


Conference presentations

Dulfer, N., McKernan, A. & Brindle, K. (2017). Differentiation in a Global Curriculum Context. Presentation at the British Educational Research Association conference, 5 – 7 September, Brighton, UK. [Authored, did not present.]


McKernan, A., Suda, E. & Molloy, J. (2017). Selective histories: Sifting and sorting truths. Presentation at the History Teachers’ Association of Victoria conference, 20 – 21 July, Melbourne.


McKernan, A. (2016). Memory, history and affective dissonance: Managing the past in the present at Port Arthur. Presentation at the Australian Association of Research in Education conference, 28 November – 2 December, Melbourne.


McKernan, A. (2015, July). Discomfort at the Australian War Memorial: learning the difficult histories of war and conflict. Presentation at the Australian Historical Association conference, 6 – 10 July, Sydney. [Recipient of AHA/Copyright Agency Bursary]


McKernan, A. (2014, May). Difficult history and social justice in Australia’s museums. Presentation at the Museums Australia Conference, 16 – 19 May, Launceston. [Recipient of a bursary from the Museum Australia Education Network]


McKernan, A. (2013, November). Comfort with discomfort: empathy and experience in Museum Victoria. Presentation at the MGSE Graduate Conference, 23 November, Melbourne.


McKernan, A. (2013, July). Difficult histories in German museums. Presentation at the HTAV Conference, 25 – 26 July, Melbourne.


McKernan, A. (2013, June). Uncomfortable Histories: Educating with difficult histories in Australian Museums. Presentation at the EERA Histories of Education Summer School, 13 – 16 June, Hamburg, Germany.


Jongebloed, L. & McKernan, A. (2012, July). Making the most of museums. Presentation at the HTAV Conference, 26 – 27 July, Melbourne.


Lectures and invited presentations


McKernan, A. (2019). Confronting Histories and the Learner Profile. Invited presentation at the International Baccalaureate Schools Australasia Leadership Symposium, 23 August, Melbourne.


McKernan, A. (2018). Teaching Confronted and Contested Histories in Museums. Presentation to the Museums Australia Education Network ‘It’s Academic’ seminar, 6 September, Melbourne.


McKernan, A. (2015). White walls and psychological punishment: Difficult history in Port Arthur’s Separate Prison. Sites of International Memory & Documenting UNESCO in Australia Workshop, August, University of Melbourne.


Other presentations


Buchanan, E., Gerrard, J., McKernan, A., & Rudolph, S. (2013, November). History in Education: A Discussion. Seminar conducted at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne.

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