We believe that history is as much an approach to knowledge as it is a body of discrete information, and we're committed to the humanist principle that education must carry with it the ability to communicate one's knowledge. We therefore offer the following mission statement:
- The goal of the Department of History is to make students aware of the deep origins and the interconnectedness of contemporary life. Such a perspective places the present in context and challenges our culture's emphasis on newness and the disconnectedness of events. It prepares students to understand and participate more knowingly in the contemporary world.
For history to yield knowledge, it needs to be explored in an organized manner. History study begins by acquiring knowledge about the past. This investigation also includes exposure to the many ways in which historians organize and test their evidence. Using a variety of methods, historians draw conclusions about the past that can then be examined from a variety of perspectives.
In broader terms, the study of history helps students develop skills in thinking critically about what they read and hear. They are also afforded the opportunity to conduct research and are helped to write (and in other ways present) clear conclusions. Work in courses and with faculty makes students aware of differing interpretations and the grounds on which sound historical judgments rest.
Our department emphasizes a close working relationship between faculty and students, and we are committed to small classes and individualized instruction. First year survey classes are limited to thirty students. Upper level class sizes range from twenty-five students down to ten in our senior seminars, and even one-on-one tutorials with History faculty. History majors may also choose to complete independent studies and honors projects, both of which feature intensive collaboration with individual instructors. These kinds of partnership take advantage of the sense of drama that draws students (as well as the public) to the presentation of the past while maintaining a commitment to the discipline's best practices.
The accomplishments of our former students prove that knowledge and insight gained from the study of history and teacher education can serve a variety of life goals. History and social studies majors have gone into professions such as teaching, law, medicine, business, and the arts. Others have taken up a variety of positions in archiving, research, and communications in both the private and public sectors. Please visit our Alumni Network pages to see what our former students are doing now. The American Historical Association has excellent resources about careers with a degree in History.