History is a field of study which takes a disciplined approach to studying the past. The various sub-fields of history share a common emphasis on the intellectual skills and traditions of inquiry and analysis, comparison and synthesis. Drawing as it does upon the practices and concerns of a wide range of disciplines, a history major provides excellent preparation for graduate study in the humanities, social sciences, public policy, and the law, as well as for many careers in the private and public sector. The history major helps students develop critical thinking, master the close analysis of texts and context, learn how to evaluate and gather evidence, and frame coherent and persuasive arguments and explanations of individual and social actions and events in the world. Students’ intellectual and leadership potential is promoted by supporting them in developing the skills as well as the interest to engage the intellectual and moral issues of the past as well as of the present.
Resources for Nonmajors
All the department’s course offerings are open to nonmajors.
The department encourages its majors to learn through practical experience in various fields related to history by means of an off-campus internship. This may include working at the Minnesota Historical Society, one of the county historical societies, or a local museum. The internship is an experience designed by the student in conjunction with off-campus and faculty supervisors. See the department chair for details.
In the spring of their junior year, interested History majors who meet the requirements can apply to write an honors thesis in their senior year. Students choose faculty members with whom they wish to work, prepare a major paper based on primary source materials, and present it to the department for consideration.
History graduates pursue careers in a wide variety of professions and public service from teaching to law, from community service to governmental agencies. The department works closely with the program in education for students seeking the licensure in social studies.
Kate Bjork, professor, chair. AB 1985, University of California-Berkeley; MA 1989, University of Chicago; PhD 1998, University of Chicago. Latin America, colonialism, slavery and emancipation, disease and the environment, social and comparative history.
John A. Mazis, professor. BA 1988, MA 1993, PhD 1998 University of Minnesota. Russia, Greece, modern Europe, imperialism, and diplomatic, political, and social history.
Susie Steinbach, professor. AB 1988, Harvard University; MA 1990, MPhil 1992, PhD 1996, Yale University. Britain and its empire, modern Europe, and social, cultural, and gender history.
Nurith Zmora, professor. BA 1974, MA 1983, Hebrew University of Jerusalem; MA 1985, PhD 1990, Johns Hopkins University. United States; political and social history.