THE CRITICAL STUDY OF THE PAST helps us to live in a wider world. On the one hand it introduces us into conversation with persons very different from ourselves – human beings holding values and facing constraints far removed from the ones we espouse and encounter in the present day. Knowing that the world was not always what it is now assures us that it will be different still, and this knowledge can be both humbling and liberating. On the other hand, historical study enables us to see more fully the roots of our own society, as well as the sources of its contradictions. It gives even the most familiar and homey parts of our lives added dimension.
The History Department is committed to expanding the intellectual and cultural dimensions of concentrators as well as non-concentrators. If the habit of critical historical inquiry – the methods of history as a scholarly discipline – can be effectively instilled, it has the potential to transform a person’s approach to everything in life that follows. It can take small certainties and replace them with large questions. It can encompass tight circles of association and recast them as a limitless network of interconnections. It can take inconspicuous parts of human experience that might otherwise be dismissed as strange, stupid, incomprehensible, boring or irrelevant and make them indispensable to self-understanding.
Goals of the History Department
- Introduce students to the discipline of history
- Prepare students to be effective and clear communicators
- Prepare students for future studies and careers in a variety of fields
- Prepare students for a lifetime of critical engagement with their worlds