Consciously or not, all of us operate as historians. We make judgments and decisions based on our knowledge, however inadequate, of what has gone before. Furthermore, we make sense of our own position in the present by composing and telling stories about where we have been in the past. The formal study of history—the critical examination of human accomplishments and failures—does likewise, and it greatly enhances our ability to judge and decide about both private matters and public issues. Although historical awareness does not offer immediate solutions to contemporary problems, it does lead to a better understanding of them. Studying what was remote in time and space provides important perspectives on politics, society, and culture.
Required for the major in history
Students who major in history will learn to marshal historical facts, engage in critical historical analysis, and evaluate differing historiographical traditions as they gain an understanding of the variability of human experience.
The major in history requires the following:
- A sequence of three courses to promote the skills and method of disciplined historical inquiry and to culminate in the production of an original and substantial piece of historical research. These courses must be taken in order and at specified times, so students must take special care when planning their advancement through the major.
- HIST 101: Introduction to Historical Methods taken during the freshman or sophomore year.
- HIST 620: Historiography taken during the junior year.
- HIST 650: The Practice of History taken during the senior year. Exceptions may be granted for majors who petition to complete a piece of advanced and original historical research in a suitable off-campus program.
- Seven additional courses to broaden and deepen historical knowledge. One must be a seminar or independent study in which students will begin a research project to be completed in HIST 650.
- One six-unit course from each of the following three categories: North America (NA), Europe (E), and Global and Comparative (G&C).
- One course that covers materials up to the year 1750.
- One course designated as an advanced seminar or independent study (400-599) during the junior year or during the Fall Term of the senior year.
- Students are encouraged to take as many additional courses focusing on their own areas of interest as they and their advisors deem appropriate for the completion of the major.
Senior Experience in history
The Senior Experience in the history department consists of a collaborative one-term seminar, The Practice of History, culminating in an original and substantial piece of historical research. Students will be introduced to the standards of research and writing common to the historical profession and will be guided through their own individual projects. The Practice of History represents the culmination of a course sequence that includes Introduction to Historical Methods and Historiography. It is open to history majors who have completed an advanced seminar, tutorial, or independent study and have outlined a research topic that they are prepared to pursue intensively.
Required for the minor in history
- One introductory course in history (100-199).
- Five additional courses in history.
- No more than one may be an introductory course (100-199).
- At least one must be an advanced seminar or independent study (400-599).
Teacher certification in history or broad-field social studies
History majors can seek certification to teach history or broad-field social studies at the secondary level. For certification in broad-field social studies, students must complete the history major and a minimum of two courses each in two other social studies (anthropology/sociology, economics, government/political science, or psychology) and at least one course in each of the remaining social studies. A course in environmental studies is also required. Students who plan to seek teacher certification should review the requirements in the Education section of the catalog and meet with the director of teacher education, preferably before the end of the sophomore year.
Students who have earned a 4 or better in the Advanced Placement Examinations in American History, European History, or World History will receive six units of credit in history and may use that credit in partial fulfillment of the major. (History majors should consult with their advisors to determine which departmental introductory course their AP credit might replace.) These same students are strongly encouraged to consult with any member of the department about appropriate placement in courses above the introductory level.
The history department encourages majors, whenever possible, to participate in one of the off-campus programs offered either by Lawrence or under consortial arrangements. The Lawrence London Centre and the ACM Newberry Library Program have proven to be of particular interest to history majors, though majors have benefited from participation in numerous others—especially those that match up with students’ area interests (see Off-Campus Programs).