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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Seek meaning and pursue positive change in the world