History courses are part of the academic undergraduate core. Knowledge offered in undergraduate history courses presents students with a fundamental means to make sense out of existence. Marshaling an understanding of the past and past acts is consistent with how people identify and define themselves; it describes and circumscribes action and desires. In addition to the “data” of history, history courses show both undergraduate majors and others how to think both historically and critically. The systematic exploration of historical thinking—the meticulous examination of myths, agreements, and public action—prepares students to become self-sufficient adults. It assists in the development of skills necessary to decide and identify viable choices and opportunities, decisions that students will have to make throughout their lives. As such, history is a vital facet of other university and college programs: education, Women’s Studies and African American Studies are only a few of what are numerous examples of programs that require substantial history courses. History is fundamental to the academe, where the goal of all scholars is to reject as a matter of principle simple unquestioning acceptance or mindless acquiescence to the group and to develop action based on reasoned analysis.
The same benefits that accrue to undergraduates through history also serve our M.A. and Ph.D. students. These two graduate programs also have a more practical bent; they concentrate on persons seeking in some capacity to practice history as a means to a livelihood. While undergraduate education includes training in clear thinking and some attention to clear exposition, both of the oral and written word, graduate education demands considerable attention to both. Graduate education also requires learning the profession’s codes, agreements, techniques, methods, approaches, and opportunities. At its heart, graduate education accentuates research and training students in the methods to produce new knowledge is in itself a critical aspect of the department’s mission within the college and university. The department seeks to develop new interpretations and understandings of past events and therefore to enhance knowledge within the profession and throughout society.