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On behalf of our faculty and staff, welcome to the Department of History

The Department of History offers a broad range of courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels that are designed to challenge what you think you know about the past and the present.   History, as a discipline, is rooted in the notion that to understand our contemporary world requires knowledge about how this world came to be what it is.  The past, present and future are not separate domains: the present is a product of the past, and what happened in the past helps to shape the future.  Our discipline pursues interpretations of the past based on the research and analysis of surviving evidence.  The discipline of history is thus not about finding and remembering facts from the past.  Rather, historians follow rules of evidence and seek to understand the issues they discuss by rigorously researching the context of the past.  While mindful of that context, historians also make sense of the past through the prism of the present: this is why each generation asks new questions about the past, and why historical interpretations are never static or monolithic.  Judgments about the past are constantly being revised and re-interpreted based on new questions and the researching of new evidence.

Within this rich context of constantly evolving content, our courses are designed to foster key skill sets: how to ask probing questions and seek thoughtful answers, how to read critically, build coherent arguments, write effectively and speak persuasively. These are skills that will help you on your way to a career in business, public service, law, journalism, teaching, or academia.

On this website you will find descriptions of our current and previous courses at all levels, information about the research projects of our faculty, rules for program students, and news about public lectures and events in the department.  If you are interested in experiential learning, check out our new History Practicum course. If you are considering pursuing graduate work in our department, look for our list of dissertation topics in progress.  And if you do not find what you are seeking, please do not hesitate to contact me or the department staff.  We look forward to sharing our passion for the past with you.


Stephen Heathorn

Chair, Department of History