Learning Outcomes

Below is a rough list of what history majors and minors can expect to gain from their studies.

Information Literacy

History majors and minors develop information literacy skills for evaluating historical and library sources. They excel at using archives, libraries, computer databases, on-line documents sites, indexes, biographical/geographical tools and other sources to find information. Majors and minors recognize the uses, limitations, and advantages of different types of historical writing, such as journal articles, historiographical essays, book reviews, memoirs, and so forth). They learn how to gather and access valuable primary and secondary source materials that can then be used for their own research.

Effective Communication

History majors/minors communicate effectively about the past through written and oral presentations. Using effective grammar, word choice, and punctuation, they communicate with styles that are polished, persuasive, clear, and elegant. They learn to organize their thoughts and materials, generate outlines, document their sources, revise and edit their work, and critique the writing of others. They write proposals, prospectives, essays, reviews, responses, and papers. They understand how to pitch a proposal and persuade others of their valid contributions. In their senior year majors produce a 25-page research paper of publishable quality, work with practicing historians, and learn to effectively apply for jobs, the professional schools (business, law, medicine), and/or graduate schools.

Analytical Skills

History majors know how to analyze arguments and different perspectives and respond critically to both. They read scholarly articles and books, identify theses, evaluate relevance, and critique significance. Majors and minors learn to identify hidden agendas and biases in documents and historical writings and recognize the subjective weaknesses or strengths of their sources. Majors and minors learn to examine history from different perspectives and identify how divergent conclusions can be drawn about the same event. They see relationships and patterns in historical occurrences but can also identify patterns in contemporary developments. History majors and minors understand the forces behind history, its packaging, and perpetuation.

Problem-Solving Abilities

History majors and minors develop problem-solving skills through carrying out independent projects. By writing position papers, research papers, historiographical essays, and book reviews, History majors/minors learn how to wade through large quantities of information, find valuable quotes and facts, and make an argument about larger historical developments. They know how to organize their time and resources for maximum effectiveness. They learn to fit their own ideas within the larger theoretical, historical, and historiographical context. They see how their own work contributes to larger debates in the field of history because they recognize gaps or weaknesses that need addressing.

Context/Narrative Familiarity

History majors and minors learn the context and major narratives of at least three of five major geographical areas (Americas, Asia, Europe, Middle East, and the Pacific Islands). History majors and minors read great books on various peoples and cultures. Understanding that different cultures operate on very different historical experiences, values, and assumptions, history majors can triangulate a course to novel interpretations and extend understanding to new borders. Their understanding of multiple historical experiences gives them a rich view of humanity. Exploring and researching about other societies in different places and times embellishes the history major’s capacity to see changes in politics, society, economics, racial relations, gender distinctions, and the consumption of history itself.

(Inter)-disciplinary Competence

History majors connect with related disciplines, including political science and geography. All social sciences spring from the bedrock of history and the discipline of history has, in turn, benefited from their fruits. History majors and minors understand why their work represents such a vital role in the preservation of civilization in the broadest sense. They understand how changes in the field of history reflect and drive changes in societies’ values and how history presentation cements or erodes social mores. History majors recognize the value of “brass plates” and what happens when a society loses touch with the beliefs of its past. They are familiar with professional standards of ethics and excellence.

Global Citizenship

History majors discover the value of global citizenship by understanding world history and applying those values in their own lives and careers. They filter documents to account for cultural or subjective biases, including those of their own society, in order to present fair and even-handed assessments. They empathize with people and can effectively communicate with those of other cultural spheres. History becomes a powerful bridge allowing people of different communities to appreciate each other and establish relationships of trust. History majors and minors enjoy a broad view of existence on this planet and feel connections to different parts of it.