We offer a wide variety of courses dealing with the principal periods and topics of American, European, and World history, as well as selected non-European/non-U.S. fields such as East Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Students not only learn content but also develop the habits of mind needed for the critical investigation and appreciation of history.
Two essays posted on the American Historical Association website provide some thoughtful reflections on the importance of studying history as part of a liberal arts education and as preparation for a variety of careers. The first one entitled “Why Study History?” was written by Peter N. Stearns and can be found here. The second, also called “Why Study History,” was written by William H. McNeill and can be found here.
Students graduating with a major or minor in history will acquire a broad knowledge of European, American, non-Western, and World history. Through their choice of electives, they may delve more deeply into a particular area or explore a variety of topics. Equally important, history majors and minors will learn the skills necessary to the discipline of history, including careful analysis and interpretation of historical evidence, evaluation of secondary materials, conducting research, crafting an argument, and supporting their argument with appropriate evidence.
The history major can be taken alone or paired with another major or minor such as Political Science, International Studies, Elementary or Secondary Education, Communication and Journalism, American Culture and Difference, Justice and Peace Studies, Legal Studies, or the Renaissance program to provide a student with preparation for careers in education, business, law, communications, government, and library, museum, or archival work. The history major also prepares students for graduate work in history or in other history-related disciplines.
The History Department also offers courses for the non-major in fulfillment of the Historical Studies component of the core curriculum. The learning objectives for these courses are:
1. To teach basic methods of historical inquiry and analysis of sources;
2. To increase knowledge of the history of the modern world and its origins;
3. To raise awareness of diversity within human history and the importance of intercultural learning;
4. To address issues related to the professional ethics of historians and the ethical use of historical materials.
The organizing theme of courses that fulfill the Historical Studies component of the core curriculum is “Contact and Change,” which affords students an opportunity to examine two of the principal challenges facing historians: accounting for change, and understanding people and societies separated from us by space and time.