Mission and Learning Outcomes

Mission

The study of history provides a solid liberal arts education that addresses fundamental questions about the nature of humanity, of society, of past experiences, and of the present.

Student Learning Outcomes

History students can:

1. Build historical knowledge.

  • Gather and contextualize information in order to convey both the particularity of past lives and the scale of human experience.
  • Recognize how humans in the past shaped their own unique historical moments and were shaped by those moments.
  • Develop a body of historical knowledge with breadth of time and place—as well as depth of detail—in order to discern context.
  • Distinguish the past from our very different present.

2. Develop historical methods.

  • Recognize history as an interpretive account of the human past—one that historians create in the present from surviving evidence.
  • Collect, sift, organize, question, synthesize, and interpret complex material.
  • Practice ethical historical inquiry that makes use of and acknowledges sources from the past as well as the scholars who have interpreted that past.
  • Develop empathy toward people in the context of their distinctive historical moments.

3. Recognize the provisional nature of knowledge, the disciplinary preference for complexity, and the comfort with ambiguity that history requires.

  • Welcome contradictory perspectives and data, which enable us to provide more accurate accounts and construct stronger arguments.
  • Describe past events from multiple perspectives.
  • Explain and justify multiple causes of complex events and phenomena using conflicting sources.
  • Identify, summarize, appraise, and synthesize other scholars’ historical arguments.

4. Apply the range of skills it takes to decode the historical record because of its incomplete, complex, and contradictory nature.

  • Consider a variety of historical sources for credibility, position, perspective, and relevance.
  • Evaluate historical arguments, explaining how they were constructed and might be improved.
  • Revise analyses and narratives when new evidence requires it.

5. Create historical arguments and narratives.

  • Generate substantive, open-ended questions about the past and develop research strategies to answer them.
  • Craft well-supported historical narratives, arguments, and reports of research findings in a variety of media for a variety of audiences.

6. Use historical perspective as central to active citizenship.

  • Apply historical knowledge and historical thinking to contemporary issues.
  • Develop positions that reflect deliberation, cooperation, and diverse perspectives.

Source: The American Historical Association