The Department of History supports the mission of the University and the College of Arts and Sciences through its commitment to excellence in the liberal arts tradition of teaching, scholarship, and service.
History is central to the liberal arts tradition. As an anchor department in the Humanities, the discipline trains both the mind and the imagination of those who study it. History imparts the vital skills of discernment and synthesis through critical thinking, reading, and writing skills. In particular, History confronts students with worlds, times, places, and cultures-including their own-in ways they never before considered. In pursuit of this fundamental aspect of its mission, the faculty is committed to the labor-intensive task of teaching. The faculty demonstrates this commitment by offering first-class instruction in basic studies, advanced undergraduate, and graduate courses in History; by participating in interdisciplinary and honors programs at the undergraduate level; and by supporting graduate programs in Liberal Studies and Education.
By definition, to study history is to affirm the university's commitment to exploring issues of diversity within both a national and global context. To study history is to engage intellectually in the confrontation of peoples, ideas, and values in part because the past, no matter the society, is a foreign country. Devoting over half of its faculty and curricular resources to an exploration of world cultures and societies, the Department of History occupies a central place in introducing students and the wider community to the world outside of the United States. In support of this mission, the Department recruits and maintains a diverse research-active faculty, requires its undergraduate majors to take a full complement of survey and advanced courses that explore western and non-western civilizations, and participates in interdisciplinary minors, area studies, and the study abroad program. Finally, faculty members specializing in the study of the United States, many with a particular research focus on regional and local history, serve as valuable resources for understanding the impact of the past on our own times.
The Department of History contributes to the university's mission of enriching the total learning environment by expanding its undergraduate and graduate course offerings and faculty expertise outside of the traditional classroom. The faculty supports this aspect of the department's mission by providing the following: undergraduate and graduate instruction in Public History, including the supervision of internships; distance learning via web-based instruction; extension and outreach programs; and community-oriented public programs. To increase public access to the History faculty's areas of expertise, the Department also serves as a vital resource for the local public and private school systems, government, public agencies, and civic organizations.