Department of History
Department of History
Why Study History?
History helps us understand people and societies. In the first place, history offers a storehouse of information about how people and societies behave. It offers the only extensive evidential base for the contemplation and analysis of how societies functioned in the past and people need to have some sense of how societies function simply to run their own lives. Only through studying history can we grasp how things change; only through history can we begin to comprehend the factors that cause change; and only through history can we understand what elements of an institution or a society persist despite change. Exploring what historians sometimes call the "pastness of the past" -the ways people in distant ages constructed their lives-involves a sense of beauty and excitement, and ultimately another perspective on human life and society. History also provides a terrain for moral contemplation. Moreover, history helps provide identity by using historical data containing evidence of how families, groups, institutions, and whole countries have formed and about how they have evolved while retaining cohesion. Finally, studying history is essential for genuine citizenship. It offers evidence about how nations have interacted with other societies, providing international and comparative perspectives essential for responsible citizenship. More important, studying history encourages habits of mind that are vital for responsible public behavior, whether as a national or community leader, an informed voter, a petitioner, or a simple observer.
What skills does a well-trained student of history develop?
The Ability to Assess Evidence (Critical Thinking). the study of history builds experience in dealing with and assessing various kinds of evidence-the sorts of evidence historians use in shaping the most accurate pictures of the past that they can. Learning how to combine different kinds of evidence-public statements, private records, numerical data, visual materials-develops the ability to make coherent arguments based on a variety of data. This skill can also be applied to information encountered in everyday life. The Ability to Assess Conflicting Interpretations. Learning history means gaining some skill in sorting through diverse, often conflicting interpretations. History does teach the need for assessing arguments, and it provides opportunities to engage in debate and achieve perspective. Experience in Assessing Past Examples of Change. Analysis of change means developing some capacity for determining the magnitude and significance of change, for some changes are more fundamental than others. The Ability to Write Cogently. Students of history write numerous history papers that hone their writing skills to a high degree of clarity and intellectual rigor. History is Useful in the World of Work. Students of history develop research skills, the ability to find and evaluate sources of information, and the means to identify and evaluate diverse interpretations. Work in history also improves basic writing and speaking skills and is directly relevant to many of the analytical requirements in the public and private sectors, where the capacity to identify, assess, and explain trends is essential.
What are some career opportunities?
Historical studies can provide a rich insight and perspective for careers in some do the following fields: law, education, foreign service, journalism, business, public administration, government, planning, publishing, public relations, public service, heritage and cultural agencies.
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PLU's history department offers a balanced field of historical investigation including courses on the history of the United States, Europe, China, East Asia, and Latin America. In addition, history department faculty members teach in several interdisciplinary programs including Integrated Studies, Global Studies, Legal Studies, Women's and Gender Studies, and the Honors Program.