The History Department aims to cultivate students' awareness of the many advantages of the study of history. Among these are a heightened understanding of the long-term historical causes that shape our present, and an ability to recognize and critique those myths of the past to which, as citizens, students are inevitably exposed. History can also enhance our understanding of ourselves, and of the full range of human possibilities, by revealing contrasts with other (past) peoples and societies. Equally, it stimulates an appreciation for cultural difference across time and space: history can serve to facilitate a sympathetic and tolerant understanding of others. History courses at both the introductory and advanced levels emphasize skills that are essential for professional success -- including critical analysis and reasoning, written and oral communication. At the same time, we give full recognition to the humane and even therapeutic value of history, believing that the study of the past can contribute to human betterment and a more hopeful future.
As history majors move from introductory courses which provide a basic foundation to advanced level courses which provide more insight in both subject areas as well was the methodologies of history, students are also required to take a variety of courses intended to broaden their knowledge of the history of the world. They can choose from courses on the history of the United States, Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. The culmination of their program is a required seminar, involving a substantial research paper, where students apply the skills learned to an area of particular interest.