Courses are offered in American history, European history, and the history of selected non-European and non-Western cultures. The curriculum emphasizes not the rote recognition of facts, but the study of history as a means of developing critical intelligence and fostering an awareness of ourselves and our world through examination of the past, including examination of ways in which human beings have attempted to understand the meaning of historical events and issues. Courses offered through the department meet general education and transfer requirements in American history, humanities, and certain facets of the social sciences. In addition, courses may be taken to satisfy requirements for an Associate in Arts degree with a major in history.
Students majoring in history at the lower-division level concentrate on learning how to use the skills of critical thinking to identify basic historical themes, but more importantly to analyze the nature in which these themes interact within any given society to determine its values, legitimize its authority, and perpetuate its existence. Thus the major is appropriate for students who wish to acquire an understanding of the ideas that have shaped the culture of this country, or for students who wish to transcend their own cultural limits and, by a study of other societies in other ages, to open their eyes to the diversity of the human environment.
History majors develop an ability to communicate well, both orally and in writing, and the capacity to think clearly and analytically. Therefore, students anticipating careers in law, education, communications, and governmental affairs may find the history major especially beneficial. The versatility of the major makes it appropriate for students whose career decisions may be uncertain or indefinite. The major is also designed for transfer students intending upper-division study in history and related areas.
Students may major in American or European history. In either case, students should also complete history courses in areas outside their field of emphasis. The faculty of the School of Humanities recommends that history majors not select a history course to meet the humanities requirement for general education, but explore related subjects in the humanities that may be of interest to them.