History is one of the central disciplines in a liberal education. Akin to both the humanities and social sciences, it provides important insights into how societies function, how cultures develop, and how human interactions with the natural environment (and with one another) change over time. An understanding of history is also central to questions of national, group, and individual identity. Our sense of our own history - sometimes contested and sometimes shared - is the lens through which we both view our current circumstances and envision the future. The study of history is, therefore, much more than merely a process of memorizing facts about the past. It involves interpretation and analysis, discussion and debate, imagination and rational argument. This means that students who earn a major or minor in history will build skills and knowledge that are indispensable for almost any career: clarity in writing and speaking; effective use of evidence and argument; the ability to perform independent research; and an awareness of cultural differences and commonalities. It is thus excellent preparation for a wide variety of fields - including law, teaching, business, public service, journalism, and even medicine.
History majors are required to take a minimum of 10 total history courses and must complete either a thesis or a comprehensive exam in their senior year. The major requirements are as follows:
I. Two Foundational Classes:
- Any 100-level "Making History" course - These courses will serve as a skills-based introduction to historical methods. Course numbers and topics will vary depending on instructor.
- HI 121 Big History - An introduction to global comparative history.
II. Four Thematic Electives: Students may choose two electives in each of two designated thematic fields selected from the following: Nationalism/Revolution, Cultural History, Environmental History, History of Race, and Gender History. Examples of courses available in each thematic field are provided below. Additional classes not included on this list will be offered periodically.
- EA 210G East Asia: Nationalism & Revolution
- HI 202H European Revolutions
- HI 218G Modern Middle East
- HI 234G 20th Century World
- AH 203A Arts of the Silk Road
- AM 201H American Civilization
- HI 214G Music and Social Revolt
- CL 242H Greek History
- CL 243H Roman History: Romulus to Caesar
- CL 244H Roman Empire
- EA 201G East Asian Traditions
- HI 225E Western Myth & the Environment
- HI 253E Environmental History
- HI 254E European Environmental History
- AS 301G Identity, Race, & Ethn.: Ancient World
- HI 260G France and the Islamic World
- HI 280M Space, Place, and Race
- CL 203H Women & Gender in the Ancient World
- HI221H Women in the Modern US
- HI 270H Sex & Power in European Thought
III. Free Electives:Students may choose any two additional history electives at the 200- or 300-level. See the list of courses for a sense of our regular offerings.
IV. Geographical Diversity Requirement:Among the six 200- and 300-level thematic and free electives described above, students must include:
- At least one course in American history
- Courses in at least two of the following four geographical areas: Europe; Middle East; East Asia; Classical Mediterranean.
V. One 380-level WI Advanced Research Seminar:These are advanced research seminars that are designated as WI courses. T
opics will vary by instructor. Students who plan to attend graduate school in history or a related field are strongly encouraged to take more than one 380-level seminar. The second of these seminars may be counted as a "free elective."
VI. One Internship course:Usually taken in the junior year.
VII. Either the Senior Seminar/Comps (HI 498) or a Senior Thesis (HI 499).
Because of the interdisciplinary nature of historical study, a number of courses from allied disciplines do count toward the history major and minor, but are not included in the course list below. Check with your mentor for a full list. Examples of such courses include:
- AH 203A Arts of the Silk Road
- AM 307H Rebels with a Cause
- AM 308H Becoming Visible
- AM 314E Environment in American Thought
- AM 324H Organized Crime in America
- AM 338H The Harlem Renaissance
- AM 339H The Great Depression and American Life
- PL 349G Native American Thought
Details about these courses can be found in the respective disciplinary listings.
A minor in History includes a minimum of five courses. Requirements include any 100-level History Foundational course, two courses in the same thematic field or in the same geographic area, one additional elective at the 200 or 300-level, and one 380-level WI research seminar.