Minor in History

Why study history?

History does not just narrate a sequence of past events. The practice of history examines change over time and tries to understand the forces that contributed to those changes. Historians are most interested in questions that begin by asking ‘why’ or ‘how.’ These questions demand complex answers about who we are, how we have come to where we are, and what forces have shaped humanity through time.

In a culture that places primary value only on living in the present, studying history can offer a rare foundation for critiquing or at least comprehending the current state of the world. Studying history helps you cut through the myths that cloud our understanding of ourselves and others and offers a depth of comprehension that few other disciplines can promise. The following are some key characteristics of the Department of History and major:

  • Welcoming: Politics, sex, art, labor, literature, rebellion, war - the Department of History draws no boundaries between what you may and may not examine. In our teaching and research, faculty are committed to recovering and centering voices of people whose historical experiences have been marginalized through systemic racism, gender and sex prejudice, and class bias. In keep with that goal, we welcome all students and viewpoints in our classrooms. 
  • Flexible: Students must take only two required courses - a seminar on historical methods (HIST 301) and a senior research seminar (HIST 696) or honors thesis (HIST 690 & HIST 691). Because few courses have sequential prerequisites, History is easy to take as a minor or as a second major.
  • PersonalCourses in the department are usually small, and the larger courses always include trained Graduate Teaching Assistants to give individual attention and feedback. All our required seminars are capped at fifteen students, and each afford the opportunity to work one-on-one with a faculty member. 
  • Prominent:  Faculty in the department are nationally and internationally recognized leaders in their field, and they bring this advanced knowledge into the classroom.
  • Relevant: The study of history at the collegiate level prepares students for global citizenship. Our courses develop skills in critical thinking, analysis of qualitative and quantitative sources, research methods and practices, persuasive writing, and articulate speaking –all of which transfer to any number of future careers and occupations. Equally important, the discipline of history instills a worldview that expands beyond ourselves and teaches us to form thoughtful evidence-based arguments, even in the face of uncertainty, bias, and incomplete information.