History Program Learning Outcomes

The goal of the history major is to offer students the knowledge and skills they need to gain a critical perspective on the world. History students learn to find and interpret evidence about the world, to translate complex information into engaging and persuasive stories, and to use their understanding of many perspectives to solve complex problems.

From deciphering manuscripts to mastering the latest digital research tools, history students investigate, interpret, and tell compelling stories about the past and the present. They look beyond easy explanations to understand the complexities and ambiguities of human experience. History is therefore an excellent major for students interested in careers involving research, communication, and problem-solving. History graduates can do anything. They learn to identify the skills developed in the study of history and articulate the applicability of those skills to a variety of professional and intellectual endeavors. Many continue on in fields such as law, business, non-profit management, journalism, medicine, public health, national and international policy work, military, government, museum work, library and information management, and education.

To ensure that students gain exposure to the great diversity of topics, methodologies, and philosophical concerns that inform the study of history, the department requires a combination of courses that offer breadth, depth, and variety. The structure of the curriculum ensures that students will gain broad acquaintance with several geographic areas of the world and with both the pre-modern and modern eras. In their capstone experience, students will also gain an in-depth understanding of a topic of their choice through original or creative research.

Through their courses, students should improve their skills in the following areas:

Research and Analysis

Find and interpret diverse evidence to explain complex changes over time.

  • Read and evaluate a variety of materials to determine their origins, perspective, usefulness, and reliability
  • Analyze influences that shape historical narratives and debates across genres and media
  • Explain complex changes over time at different levels of scale
  • Ask creative questions and work persistently to find relevant sources to answer them
  • Develop a convincing narrative or properly substantiated argument based on synthesizing diverse methodologies and sources of information

Written and Oral Communication

Communicate effectively to a variety of audiences in writing and speech.

  • Craft clear, persuasive prose
  • Discuss and distill complex points through lucid verbal communication
  • Communicate findings to diverse audiences, in various formats

Leadership and Community-Building

Use an understanding of many perspectives to work with people and solve complex problems.

  • Give and receive helpful, respectful feedback
  • Lead and participate productively in purposeful discussion
  • Recognize contextual influences on the values, perspectives, and actions of individuals and groups, including oneself
  • Approach a problem in multiple ways to propose a range of viable solutions
  • Create and implement a plan for completing a multi-step project

Empathy and Global Citizenship

Seek to understand differing views and ways of being in the world.

  • Engage with humility and empathy, and respect those with differing views
  • Recognize multiple ways of being in the world, and how what may seem natural in a society has been built over decades of accumulated human actions
  • Break down stereotypes and misconceptions through rigorous analysis
  • Understand the roots of persistent social, economic, gender, and racial inequalities across time, space, and cultures.
  • Develop a lifetime sense of curiosity and wonder

Learning Outcomes for Assessment

  1. Find and interpret diverse evidence to explain complex changes over time
  2. Communicate effectively to a variety of audiences in writing and speech
  3. Use an understanding of many perspectives to work with people and solve complex problems
  4. Seek to understand differing views and ways of being in the world
  5. Identify the skills developed in the study of history and articulate their applicability to a variety of professional and intellectual endeavors