Department Chair: Gregory Schroeder

Faculty: P. Richard Bohr, Cynthia Curran, Jeffrey Diamond, Nicholas Hayes, Kenneth Jones, Brian Larkin, Derek Larson, Jonathan Nash, Gregory Schroeder, Shannon Smith, Theresa Vann, Elisabeth Wengler

Mission statement

The past matters.  The discipline of history works to understand the past on its own terms and reveals its relevance for the present.

History analyzes human experience in context as it changes over time.  It examines the complex intersections between human actions and the social, cultural, economic, environmental, and political forces at work in particular times and places.  History uncovers the relationship between past developments and current conditions and it highlights the contingent, constructed nature of contemporary social structures and power relations.  Historians construct interpretations of the past that illuminate the commonality and the diversity of individual and group experiences within and across societies.  They also explore how human societies remember and represent the past and analyze how historical interpretations change over time.  Thus the study of history reveals how people have used the past to create meaning for their lives.

The CSB/SJU History program supports the liberal arts mission by providing students with insight into the human condition while also building skills in critical analysis and effective communication.  We lead students into an empathetic encounter with the past and engage them in the practice of historical interpretation. Together we imagine and reconstruct people's lives across place and time and within diverse circumstances.  In these ways, the History program supports the colleges' commitment to global education and cultural literacy. We cultivate an understanding of how the past molds but does not determine the present, and we examine how current realities are historically constructed rather than naturally given.  By encouraging students to recognize complexity and question the status quo, we prepare them to become effective citizens and contribute to the common good.  Ultimately, the History program nurtures the curiosity and careful thinking that prepare students for a thoughtful and aware life.

Why study History?

Students of history develop intellectual skills and habits of mind that prepare them to find meaningful work and become successful in a wide variety of careers.  They do so by learning how to interpret the past through the process of historical analysis.  The study of history also encourages a lifelong effort to understand the human experience and prepares students to engage with the concerns of contemporary societies.

Intellectual Skills

History students learn to:

  • Analyze data by breaking complex entities into component parts, comparing and contrasting them, and constructing cause and effect relationships among them;
  • Synthesize information by selecting and marshaling relevant evidence into an explanatory narrative;
  • Evaluate arguments by weighing the validity of their premises, methodology, and conclusions;
  • Argue a position by carefully weighing divergent interpretations and grounding conclusions in evidence;
  • Write clearly by employing logical organization and precise language; and
  • Discuss effectively by respectfully listening to and participating in intellectual conversations to deepen understanding.

Principles of Historical Analysis

History students discover that:

  • Societies and cultures change over time and that no single human experience is universal;
  • People are shaped by their historical context;
  • Primary sources are influenced by their historical circumstances; and
  • Historians construct disparate interpretations of the past and these interpretations change over time.

Historical Habits of Mind

History students develop:

  • A curiosity about the past and its relationship to the present,
  • An appreciation of the complexity of the past,
  • A practice of analyzing things in context rather than in isolation,
  • A practice of grounding interpretations in evidence, and
  • An intellectual imagination that allows for a sympathetic understanding of others.

Life-long Pursuits

History students are prepared to:

  • Understand how the past has shaped contemporary societies;
  • Participate actively and knowledgeably as democratic citizens;
  • Interact respectfully with others in a global society; and
  • Seek meaning and pursue positive change in the world.

The curriculum offered by the department of history is exceptionally broad, covering Asia, Latin America, Europe, and the United States. The course offerings are divided into three groups, devised to meet a variety of student needs. The first group (numbered in the 100s) consists of broad courses designed to introduce the beginning student to the discipline of history. These courses survey general trends and developments in European, American, Latin American, or Asian history. The second group consists of upper-division courses (numbered in the 300s) that focus on particular themes, regions, or periods. These courses are generally offered on a rotating basis every third or fourth semester. The third group consists of four courses specifically designed for History majors: History Colloquium (HIST 200), Readings Seminar (HIST 250), Historiography and Methods (HIST 395), and Senior Thesis (HIST 399). The History Colloquium, focusing on primary sources, is intended for beginning majors and is typically taken in the sophomore year. The Readings Seminar teaches students to read for thesis, argumentation, and use of evidence. Historiography and Methods emphasizes the debates among historians and their varying interpretations to help students understand that historians often disagree among themselves.   In Senior Thesis, students develop and execute a research plan, collaborate with faculty mentors, and write a significant paper on the basis of primary and secondary research.  Students present their findings formally to other students, faculty, family, and friends in an end-of-semester conference. Internships are also available for interested students.

Assessment of Student Learning

The Department of History engages in an on-going assessment of the Department's curriculum, pedagogy and student intellectual development. Through a careful examination of a combination of student surveys, oral presentations and the senior thesis, we regularly assess the Department's success in meeting student objectives established in our Assessment Mission Statement and Plan. In all of these efforts, student confidentiality is protected. Assessment data are used to assist the faculty in our periodic program review and revision.

Major (40 credits)

8 credits at the 100 level; 16 credits of 300-level electives; HIST 200 History Colloquium; HIST 250 Readings Seminar; HIST 395 Historiography and Methods; HIST 399 Senior Thesis (capstone).  Students should work closely with their advisors if they wish to combine a History major with a second major, study abroad, or an Honors thesis. 

Minor (20 credits)

8 credits at the 100 level; 12 credits at the 300 level; History 200 may be substituted for 4 credits at the 300 level, but admission to the course will be on a space available basis and requires permission of instructor.

Asian History: Lower Division

  • 114 East Asia Before 1800. (4).
  • 115 East Asia Since 1800. (4)
  • 116 South Asia Before 1500. (4)
  • 117 Indian Subcontinent since 1500. (4)
  • 118 Islam and the West. (4)

Latin American History: Lower Division

  • 121 Aztecs, Incas, and Mayas: From Indigenous Empires to Conquered Peoples. (4)
  • 122 Pre-Columbian and Colonial Latin America. (4)

European History: Lower Division

  • 130 The Ancient World. (4)
  • 135 The Medieval World. (4)
  • 141 Europe from the Black Death to the French Revolution. (4)
  • 142 Europe since 1750: Old Regime to European Union. (4)

United States History: Lower Division

  • 152 The American Experience. (4)

General History: Lower Division

  • 165 History Readings Group. (0-1 credits)
  • 200 History Colloquium. (4)
  • 271 Individual Learning Project. (1-4)

Asian History: Upper Division

  • 305 Gandhi and Nationalism. (4)
  • 315 Islamists, Modernists, Mughals: Muslims in South Asia. (4)
  • 316 China in Revolution, 1800-1949. (4)
  • 317 The People's Republic of China. (4)
  • 319 Modern Japan, 1868-Present. (4)

Latin American History: Upper Division

  • 321 Colonial Mexico. (4)
  • 322 Modern Mexico. (4)
  • 323 Religion in Latin America. (4)
  • 324 Issues in Modern Latin American History. (4)

European History: Upper Division

  • 329 Colonialism and Culture: Everyday Life in the British Empire. (4)
  • 330 Greece in the Classical Period. (4)
  • 331 The Medieval Mediterranean. (4)
  • 333 Gender and Society in Western Europe. (4)
  • 335 Medieval Institutions and Society. (4)
  • 336 The Renaissance. (4)
  • 337 The Age of Reformation. (4)
  • 341 The Enlightenment and the French Revolution. (4)
  • 344 Modern Germany. (4)
  • 346 Cold War Europe, 1945-1991. (4)
  • 347 Modern Britain. (4)
  • 348 History of Ireland. (4)
  • 349 Modern Russia. (4)
  • United States History: Upper Division
  • 350 Early America. (4)
  • 351 The American Revolution. (4)
  • 352 United States in the Early 19th Century. (4)
  • 353 Civil War and Reconstruction. (4).
  • 354 United States in the Late 19th Century. (4)
  • 355 Atlantic World. (4)
  • 357 United States From World War I to 1960. (4)
  • 358 United States Since 1960. (4)
  • 360 U.S. Environmental History. (4)
  • 365 American Indian History, 1865 to Present. (4)
  • 366 Minnesota Regional History. (4)
  • 368 The United States and the World. (4)
  • General History: Upper-Division
  • 300 History Topics. (4)
  • 300A Atlantic World. (4)
  • 371 Individual Learning Project. (1-4)
  • 374 From Books to Byes. (4)

Seminars and Internships

  • 378 Apprenticeship in Archival Skills for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. (4)
  • 381 Readings Seminar. (4)
  • 389 Historiography for Social Science Majors. (4)
  • 395 Historiography and Methods. (4)
  • 397 Internship. (4-8)
  • 399 Senior Thesis (4)

Courses (HIST)