Simply put, history is the study of human interaction and change over time. Historians look critically at the past to understand why certain cultures and societies, states and conflicts developed as they did. Outcomes are never inevitable; seemingly innocuous actions have significant consequences; context matters. The History Department trains students to question simple and erroneous interpretations of the past through the art of close reading and critical analysis. We encourage these endeavors through free inquiry into various historical periods and topics. Such inquiry allows the student to enter a dialogue with the people of the past on their own terms and understand them and their societies as objectively as possible.
History courses teach students to do research and convey their results in precise writing, persuasive rhetoric, and oral argumentation. By recognizing and identifying political, social, economic, and cultural trends of the past, the student develops skills to help her more accurately predict or influence future events and understand her place in today’s world.