"Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past." —George Orwell
History is, along with philosophy and mathematics, one of the oldest academic disciplines still practiced today. History and astronomy are the only contemporary disciplines with their own Greek Muses (Ours is Clio).
The study of history helps students to develop skills such as reading comprehension, analysis, cross-cultural comparison and written argumentation that are useful in a range of careers and avocations. The practice of law, political activity, policy studies, library science, and museum work are careers that commonly follow from a collegiate study of history. However, the usefulness of historical study is far greater than that of training individuals for a small number of occupations.
All citizens, of this country and of the world, have good reason to learn history and to learn about the nature of history. In all classes, students come to see that, as both the powerful and the powerless have learned over and over, history is not a perfectly objective chronicle of the past, but rather an interpretation of that past. We are all a part of history, and in that sense, we understand ourselves only to the extent that the tellers of history allow us to do so. At the same time, historical education broadens students' knowledge and perspective, as they learn about people and places far removed from their own experiences. Thus, a goal in history classes is to empower students to develop a discerning eye on the stories about the past that are presented as the simple truth.
At Metropolitan State, history is taught in ways that are both fascinating and important to everyone. Our courses tend to balance the actions of leaders and elites with stories of the grassroots movements that have challenged those elites and advanced popular agendas. Survey courses are offered in American history and world history, similar to those applied by history departments at many colleges and universities. However, a more distinctive feature of this curriculum is the large number of courses focusing on more specific topics, ranging from History of the Holocaust to The Vietnam War to Gender History. Many courses in the Metropolitan State history program offer opportunities for students to dig into documents and other archival material, "getting their hands dirty," as it were, like professional historians do, and learning to interpret evidence.
The faculty is comprised of both resident and community faculty members. They are both highly experienced teachers and distinguished scholars. The history program is both rigorous and flexible enough to allow our majors to focus on areas and topics of greatest interest to them. Students who aim to excel—in their studies, in their chosen profession and in life—will find in the Bachelor of Arts program in history at Metropolitan State a major that stretches their horizons and prepares them for a life of success and achievement.
Here is what one graduate of the program had to say:
“Through Metropolitan State University, I’ve been able to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in history while concurrently establishing a career at the Minnesota Historical Society. The staff instructors have created a history curriculum that is challenging yet entertaining and ultimately very rewarding. I feel that Metro State has prepared me well for a future in the history field.”
By completing the history program, students will be able to:
- write argumentative and analytical history essays;
- critically evaluate historical interpretation;
- create research questions and findings in the context of current historical scholarship;
- carry out historical research in libraries and archives using their finding aids;
- evaluate how social, political, economic, and/or cultural systems and traditions, including gender, race, and/or ethnicity, change over time.