Why Study History?

Why study history?

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Why study history at UAH?

The History Department at UAH combines the scholarly expertise of a research university with the educational environment of a small liberal arts college. Here are some of the reasons to study history at UAH:

History professors at UAH are committed teachers.

Full-time faculty members teach all history classes at all levels, including freshman surveys. Faculty members have different styles of teaching: some use multi-media, some do not; some lecture and some manage discussions. All believe that students educate themselves through intensive reading and writing. All will provide personal attention and help.

History professors at UAH are published scholars.

students in foyerUAH is a research university and faculty members must publish in their field to earn tenure. Departmental faculty are published scholars who have won awards and grants from various institutes and professional associations. You will learn the best of the old and new scholarship.

Class sizes are small.

History students at UAH will not lead anonymous careers in huge classes in cavernous lecture halls. Freshman classes are limited to 35 students and upper-level classes have 10-25 members. Graduate seminars have 6-10 students normally.

The undergraduate curriculum fosters your growth.

Undergraduate students start with general surveys and proceed to specialized electives. Every course entails essay tests and research papers to build skills in investigating problems and crafting narratives. A required course in historical methods builds expertise in finding, evaluating, understanding, and writing charitably and critically about historical sources. The capstone history seminar allows seniors to write a lengthy research paper based on primary sources.

The graduate curriculum has multiple tracks to meet your needs.

Students at desks.

Graduate students who plan to continue their studies at a doctoral degree granting university can write a Master's thesis and develop foreign language skills. A "Fifth Year" option for teachers provide

s graduate history courses and top certification as a teacher in Alabama. Another track allows students to take courses for in-depth study and for development of research skills. History students also earn graduate credit and get a head start on their Master's degree through the JUMP program.

UAH provides resources for learning.

The department has an unusual number of scholarships, which often pay the full cost of tuition, for undergraduates and graduate students. Every history classroom has multimedia equipment. The library has a wealth of books and online databases.

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Why study history?

The study of history teaches more than knowledge of the past. Students of history develop an array of skills, attitudes, and habits of mind. Students studying ancient Rome clean and analyze unknown ancient coins, dug from sites from the Byzantine Empire. Working with their teachers and texts, students craft award-winning research papers, demonstrating their skills and make real contributions to our knowledge. In public history courses, they explore and pass on local history through digs, photographs, scrapbooks, and geocaching. Texts and tables come together in our Food in World History course as students explain how the ingredients on our plates came together through colonial expansion, trade, medicine, and legislation. There are also more general reasons to study history.

To Understand People and Societies

Knowledge of history is a database of human behavior, institutions, and complex cultures. Learning about past peoples leads to insights into diverse cultures and shared humanity. History confronts "the other," and by facing the foreign and strange, historians cannot help but examine themselves.

Group of students in BrandenburgTo Understand Change & Continuity

History studies people in time and examines how events happen. Understanding the manifold causes of change and continuity leads to appreciation of personal motives, social processes, irrationality, unintended consequences, and accident.

To Develop Moral Understanding and Judgment

History studies stories of choices and examines past heroes and villains, wisdom and foolishness. Historians learn the complexity of evaluation and the need for empathy, but also the necessity of judgment on past choices and their consequences.

To Become a Better Citizen

History sketches the development of national values, institutions, and problems. Historians study international relations and develop comparative perspectives. Knowing history gives insight into current issues and helps clarify political choices.

To Learn Useful Skills for the Modern Workplace

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Most students of history do not become professional historians. But they develop useful skills that are valued in many professions and by many employers. Doing history, they become skillful in research, separating important information from the inconsequential, weighing conflicting interpretations, identifying and explaining trends, and presenting information orally and in writing.


Peter N. Stearns, Why Study History?.

Leading historians answer, Why Become a Historian?

Gerald Schlabach, A Sense of History