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HIST 389 Monuments, Memory, and History

The 2020 George Floyd murder case prompted us to scrutinize what certain historical figures had done and whether their actions deserved to be revered. As a result, many statues around the world, including those of Columbus, Robert E. Lee, and Belgian King Leopold II, were attacked and taken down as memorialized individuals were deemed to have committed racial injustices. These cases present opportunities for history students to pose a series of questions. How is the past reconstructed by historians? How is the past remembered by communities? By whom and for what purposes is the past appreciated, appropriated, and abused? How is knowledge about the past created, selected, erased, maintained, and reshaped? In this course, we will examine the concepts and theories of memory and history. We will analyze, with a worldwide lens, the politics and practices of remembering and forgetting the past. We do so by investigating specific places which include, but are not limited to, monuments, museums, landmarks, public spaces, and historical sites.


2-6 Undergraduate credits

Effective May 2, 2023 to present

Meets graduation requirements for

Learning outcomes


  • Explain the relationship between history and memory on the one hand and changing public knowledge about the past on the other hand.
  • Examine historically relevant sites such as monuments, museums, landmarks, public spaces, and other heritage sites in comparative historical settings.
  • Analyze cultural, religious, and social values as well as ideological, political, and economic agendas which have shaped and reshaped the knowledge of the past and forgetting of the past from a comparative and global perspective.
  • Demonstrate comprehension of the social responsibility of world citizens for a common global, inclusive, and equitable future with the awareness that historical interpretations and social values change over time.

Minnesota Transfer Curriculum

Goal 5: History and the Social and Behavioral Sciences

  • Employ the methods and data that historians and social and behavioral scientists use to investigate the human condition.
  • Examine social institutions and processes across a range of historical periods and cultures.
  • Use and critique alternative explanatory systems or theories.
  • Develop and communicate alternative explanations or solutions for contemporary social issues.

Goal 8: Global Perspective

  • Describe and analyze political, economic, and cultural elements which influence relations of states and societies in their historical and contemporary dimensions.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of cultural, social, religious and linguistic differences.
  • Analyze specific international problems, illustrating the cultural, economic, and political differences that affect their solution.
  • Understand the role of a world citizen and the responsibility world citizens share for their common global future.