History major revamped for 2019

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Kristina Wyman's picture
Kelsie Bright Merrill

The current history major requires ten courses with a three hundred level seminar course as the final stage of the major. This system, however, will be getting an update for the class of 2019.

For the fall semester of 2015 and the first-year students who come with it, two major changes to the history department will be implemented. These changes will revolve around the subject of historiography, which is the study of historical writing, a very important, yet often overlooked, aspect in history.

The decision to change the major requirements came after a long assessment of the program, which included reviews from external sources. After this assessment, it was deemed that many students struggled with the topic of historiography.

Therefore, the history department decided to remedy this problem with a brand new course, which new history majors will be required to take.

“It’s comparable to both what happens to other departments on campus and to other history departments at comparable colleges,” says Associate Professor of History Irina Mukhin. “We want to make sure we stay competitive and to make sure our students are well prepared for the real world.”

A second history seminar will be required that will focus on training students to write and analyze historiographical essays. This course will be on a rotating schedule and a new faculty member will teach this course every semester, much like the current seminar. The difference between these two capstone classes will be in their content. The current seminar has a subject-specific curriculum attached to it, where students engross themselves in a specific topic and create a work of history reflecting their research. The new, second seminar will be more focused on the use and importance of historical tools, which is meant to prepare students to think and write better in the field of history. The students who take this class will produce a historiographical essay from the course as final project, where the students will evaluate a body of scholarship pertaining to history.

Another major change occurring in the history department will be the way that the courses are numbered. The intro level survey courses, West and the World and Western Civilization, will still be listed as one hundred level courses. Current two hundred level courses that cover a long timeline or a broad topic will remain in the two hundred level category.

It’s the three hundred and soon to be four hundred level courses where we will begin to see some changes. Some current two hundred level courses with subject specific content will be moved up to a three hundred level course, such history 268: History of the Cold War, which will become history 368.

Finally, the current topic specific seminar and the incoming methods seminar will be listed as four hundred level classes.

It’s important to remember that this change to the major’s requirements will not affect current students at the college, and the classic ten-course requirement will apply regardless of the change.

Current students, who will be grandfathered into the major, will have the option to take the new class. Many history majors are excited for this change to the major, and ready to embrace it with open arms.

“I personally believe that it was a good decision by the history department because it makes the major stronger by adding this other course,” said sophomore, history major Zach Szymkowicz. “Historiography is very valuable and is essential to understanding the major. Because of this I’m going to try and take the seminar when it becomes available.”

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