Learning Goals for All Academic Programs

For General Education Courses:

  1. Students will gain a better appreciation of the nature and practice of history as a discipline, and as the study, based on evidence, of human experiences, interactions, and relationships as they change over time.  They will learn to appreciate that history does not consist of a simple succession of self-evident facts, and that evidence-based interpretation and analysis are central to all historical work.
  2. Students will learn to identify, analyze, and contextualize different types of primary sources, and to distinguish between primary and secondary sources, thus developing their overall ability to evaluate and use evidence; in particular, students will learn to differentiate between biased assertions and informed interpretations.
  3. Students will hone their reading, writing, and oral communication skills; they will develop their ability to think historically, that is to situate events and developments in their historical context for the purpose of critical analysis; and they will expand their ability to engage with complex causal analysis, and to articulate arguments that integrate supporting evidence and analytical commentary.
  4. Students will better appreciate the differentness of the past and the distinctiveness and richness of diverse societies and cultures, and learn to view the world from perspectives other than their own.
  5. Students will gain an appreciation for the long-term and nuanced mechanisms of historical change and causality, and for the past and present accomplishments and challenges of various societies and cultures.
  6. Students will be introduced to the rudiments of historical research, including the use of library and on-line resources, basic notions of historiography, and the purpose and practice of proper citation methods.

For Majors (and Minors), beyond the goals listed above:

  1. Students will develop their ability to assemble and use evidence, not only to gain information about the past, but also to formulate analytical questions, to construct and support original arguments, and to sustain oral arguments.
  2. Students will gain an introduction to global experiences, moral awareness of global themes and issues, and the ability to encounter the unfamiliar with empathy and analytical understanding.
  3. Students will be able to identify, evaluate, and compare historians’ different interpretations of the past, thus understanding the discipline of history as an ongoing conversation between sources, scholars, and students.
  4. Students will be able to identify and trace major themes, issues, and developments in the history of different world regions, and gain the ability to formulate comparative questions and arguments about different societies and cultures.
  5. Students will be prepared for a wide range of postgraduate opportunities, especially those that value the ability to process complex information, to take multiple perspectives into account, and to communicate effectively and concisely.

For Graduate Seminars (combined MA and PhD courses):

  1. Students will develop the ability to absorb vast quantities of materials relating to specific historiographical debates, and learn how to evaluate scholarly arguments by analyzing responses to previous contributions, investigating use of primary evidence, weighing logical construction and development, and assessing rhetorical style.
  2. Students will hone their skills in conducting secondary research, familiarizing themselves with major global library holdings, digital databases, and tools for identifying and acquiring access to published material.  Students will be able to assess the extent of available published materials on any specific historical topic in their field.
  3. Students will learn how to identify archival sources, evaluate their applicability to specific historical questions, design and conduct archival field research, and integrate primary archival evidence into an argument that responds to existing historiography, creating an original work of historical research.

Other Forms of Specialized Graduate Training:

  1. Doctoral students (except for students specializing in the history of the United States) will demonstrate competence in two foreign languages.  Master’s students will demonstrate competence in one foreign language.
  2. Doctoral students will prepare four fields for their comprehensive examinations.  These four fields include a major field, a research field, and two minor fields.  For each field, students will demonstrate a mastery over the historiography.  Students will pass two written examinations and one two-hour oral examination in order to pass their comprehensive exams and move forward in the program.  Students will be prepared to offer undergraduate classes in these fields on successful completion of their comprehensive exams.
  3. Doctoral students will attend workshops that prepare them for important professional activities, including presenting papers at conferences, submitting articles for publication, teaching, preparing for the academic job market, applying for external grants and fellowships, revising one’s dissertation for publication, and getting one’s dissertation published.
  4. Doctoral students will write a dissertation that makes an original contribution to scholarship.  The dissertation is a book-length work of original, primary-source-based research that will serve as the basis for the eventual publication of a scholarly monograph and that is of a sufficiently high quality to withstand the challenge of a formal dissertation defense.
  5. Doctoral students will acquire teaching experience in a variety of classroom settings.  They will work as teaching assistants in undergraduate classes.  They will learn how to evaluate papers and exams; they will learn how to lead discussions; they will have the opportunity to deliver lectures; and they will work closely with faculty.  Some students will teach their own undergraduate seminars or lecture classes.  Students may pursue certification through the Apprenticeship in Teaching Program run by the Center for New Designs in Teaching and Learning.
  6. Students will participate in conferences and seminars and will learn how to interact with colleagues as their peers.