History is the study of the past, a process that produces an ever changing view of the past, not a static picture. The History Department therefore strives to make every student his own historian, a task encompassed in the Core Goals of the department:
- Content: to acquire a degree of mastery of both essential factual material and conceptual, thematic and comparative knowledge in several geographical areas, diverse cultures, and different time periods in human history, with particular sensitivity to the change over time of a diverse, global society.
- The Craft of History: to acquire the habit of the many analytical skills which historians use in recovering, researching, and writing about the past; such as, constructing important questions, making inferences from primary sources, putting sources into larger contexts, and making one’s own interpretations of the past.
- Historical Thinking: to develop habits of thinking like an historian: e.g., an appreciation for the complexity of both change and continuity over time and in different ages, cultures, and areas of the world; an awareness of historical interpretation and historiographical schools of thought; and an understanding of how events and ideas from the past affect the present.
- Self-Expression: to become competent, confident, and fluent in the oral, written, and group skills necessary to speak and write about and explore historical questions.
- Self-Development: to become an independent intellectual inquirer into the past, as well as a lifelong learner of history; and to locate oneself and one’s family, community, and cultural traditions in history.