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.
The history program addresses multiple audiences-from students who take a single history course to fulfill an Integrations Curriculum requirement to history majors.
All students will:
- analyze primary sources for perspective conditioned by the document’s purpose, its audience, its historical context, and/or the author’s identity
- synthesize appropriate evidence from a variety of course materials to construct plausible arguments about the past
- explain the multiple causes of historical change.
History majors will hone the above skills to some sophistication. Building upon these skills and in addition to them, history majors will:
- evaluate secondary sources for argument, methodology, and evidence;
- identify and evaluate the historiographical development of a particular topic; and
- craft a substantial research paper based on primary sources that situates the author’s original argument within the historiography of the topic.