History Department Overview

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Mission Statement

The History Department introduces students to the joys and challenges of studying the past so they may better understand themselves, their own cultures, and the broader world. In line with the purposes of Wheaton College and informed by the truths and values of the Christian faith, the department is committed to the study of history as a foundational liberal arts discipline, worthwhile for its own sake and as a means of preparing students for a wide range of vocational pursuits. The department is convinced that proper appreciation of the past in its political, social, and religious contexts significantly contributes to an individual's understanding of contemporary events and his or her own faith.

Objectives of the History Major

  • Information – To provide students with a foundational knowledge of American, European, and world history in a way that promotes appreciation, understanding, and appropriate ethical evaluation of the past.
  • Integration – To help students explore the implications of Christian thinking for understanding and interpreting history.
  • Skills and Methods – To equip students with appropriate skills to investigate, analyze, and interpret historical documents and to communicate their ideas orally and in writing. Students also will engage questions of historical understanding, exploring and evaluating the different ways historians construct the past.
  • Preparation – To provide professional and pre-professional education in such areas as law, medicine, public policy, and business. To prepare students for graduate work in history and related fields, and to prepare students seeking certification as primary and secondary school teachers.
  • Participation – To encourage a continuing liberal education (formal and informal) and to cultivate habits of mind useful for future service to church and society.

The major prepares students for a variety of careers, ranging from business, politics, and law, to journalism, teaching, the ministry, and further graduate work in history. Our offerings include courses foundational for Wheaton’s liberal arts program that are approved for General Education credit, lecture courses on narrower topics, and upper level courses that train students to engage in more rigorous historical research and analysis.

The department is particularly strong in European history and East Asian history, and we encourage students to participate in study abroad. We also provide a solid foundation with rotating electives in U.S. history and introductions to Latin American and African history. In all classes students are challenged to grow both in knowledge and in the skills of investigation, analysis, and interpretation.

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