Learning Goals for the Undergraduate Program

I. 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.

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

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.

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 more information see Pedagogical Aims and Methods