Outline of the Requirements and Rationale for the History Majors and Minor
The Organization of the Majors
The History department engages in the "five C’s of historical thinking": Context, Causality, Change over time, Complexity, and Contingency. These tools help students formulate both fact-based arguments drawing on primary sources and scholarly debates about the meaning of the past. The department offers courses in seven "geographical areas": Africa/African Diaspora, Ancient Mediterranean, Asia, Europe, Islamic World, Latin America, and North America/United States. History majors choose a "Global" track, a "Specialist" track, or the combined major in History-Environmental Studies.
At the introductory level, the department offers broad survey courses in Ancient Mediterranean, East Asian, Environmental, European, Islamic, Latin American, and United States history. These courses introduce students to historical evidence, the ways historians have interpreted such evidence, and the writing of history papers. A student's coursework in the major may include up to two of these classes.
The majority of credits in the major will be earned in courses at the 200 or 300 level. Most such courses are organized regionally or nationally and chronologically (e.g. The US Since 1945, 19th-Century Europe, Modern China) or thematically within a region (e.g. courses on gender, environment, revolution, etc). Some are organized comparatively or with a focus on encounters between cultures. All majors must take at least one pre-modern class and one modern class of any level; further requirements are discussed below.
Early in the major, but after completion of at least one course at the 200 or 300 level, all History and History-Environmental Studies majors study historical research methodology, historiography, and the use of theory in history in History 299. This course explores various "types" of history (e.g. political, social, oral, quantitative), as well as the "how to" of the discipline, culminating in a major research paper using primary source material.
The major program should be planned by the student and advisor to concentrate in either a global or specialist track in the sophomore year, with final declaration of a track or pathway by the end of junior year. All tracks and pathways include geographic and temporal diversity. Courses at the 200 or 300 level should be chosen in consultation with the major adviser, to meet the particular requirements for the major. See below for more details on the different major options.
Specialized knowledge and independent research are vital to an undergraduate history education. The culminating work of the major includes both specialized study and comparative history. All seniors take the capstone class, History 401. It is designed to assist students in integrating and synthesizing what they have studied in the major. This course, in combination with History 402, focused on the capstone essay, also prepares majors for the major exams. All majors also take a 39x-level research seminar in which they examine a subject or time period in depth and write a research paper based on primary sources. Research seminars are designed to build upon previous courses in a particular area (prerequisites can be found in the course description for each seminar; 39x versions are forthcoming). The research paper marks in some respects the culmination of the student's development as a history major. It should be noted that students who are seeking honors in major study write a thesis in addition to the other course work outlined above.
A minimum of 36 credits in history, including History 299 (with a minimum grade of C [2.0] required), History 401, History 402, and a 39x-level seminar. The 39x-level seminar pre-requisite is History 299, or with consent of the instructor.
No more than eight credits at the 100 level will count toward the major. All history majors must take at least one course exploring modern history, and at least one course exploring pre-modern history.
No more than eight credits earned in off-campus programs (e.g., I.E.S., the Associated Kyoto Program, University of St. Andrews, American University’s Washington Semester and The Philadelphia Semester) and transfer credit may be used to satisfy history major requirements.
Note: Courses taken P-D-F prior to the declaration of a history major will satisfy course and credit requirements for the major. Courses taken P-D-F may not be used to satisfy course and credit requirements for the major after the major has been declared.
Along with the basic history requirements above, students on the Global track take 4 courses at the 200-300 level representing four of seven geographic areas and 2 electives to achieve a broad understanding of major trends and interconnections in the study of the past.
Along with the basic history requirements above, students on a Specialist track choose a pathway to specialize in. Four courses in the specialty area and 2 further electives are required. This track allows students to focus on a particular approach to the study of the past. See the course catalog for lists of courses which apply to the following pathway options: Cultures & Ideas; Empires & Colonialism; Revolution, War, & Politics; Social Justice; or Before Modernity.
History-Environmental Studies Major
In addition to core environmental studies courses required of all environmental studies majors, a total of 32 credits in History, consisting of 12 credits in methods and research (History 299 with a minimum grade of C [2.0], History 401, History 402, and a 39x-level seminar in history), 12 credits in environmental history courses, and eight credits of non-environmental history electives. Only two of these courses may be at the 100-level.
Of the three core Environmental History courses from the department’s offerings, at least one must be either History 231Oceans Past and Futureor History 232Changing Landscapes. Other Environmental History courses include History 155 Animal, Vegetable, Mineral; History 205 East Asian Environmental History, History 206 European Environmental History to 1800, History 262 People, Nature, Technology, History 263 From Farm to Fork: Slow Food Fast Food, and European Foodways, History 307 Beastly Modernity, and History 355 Pacific Whaling History.
Senior year requirements: Take History 401 and 402, and successfully complete a senior oral examination in Environmental Studies. Honors Candidates in History will take History 498 for three credits and Environmental Studies 498 for one credit.
A minimum of 19 credits in history from at least two geographical areas; 16 of these credits must be chosen from among courses above the 100 level. History 299 and 401 are recommended but not required. No more than four credits earned in off-campus programs (e.g., I.E.S., the Kyoto Program, Manchester University, St. Andrew’s University, the Washington and Urban semesters) and transfer credit may be used to satisfy history minor requirements.
For Students Who Declared Before Fall 2019: you may choose to use the old guidelines on this page instead.