Why Study History?
The History faculty at Gonzaga University believe that the study of history develops an informed, critical, articulate sense of the past, an appreciation for the diversity of human experience, and an awareness of the role that tradition has played in shaping the present. A focused study of the human past also helps you broaden your perceptions of the contemporary world’s complex social structures and cultural interactions. In other words, the study of history provides an informed citizenry with the context that they will need to navigate an increasingly complicated world.
The human past is what historians choose to study, and it has been a subject of academic inquiry since the days of Herodotus (484-425 B.C.), a Greek writer whom we know as the “Father of History.” In the introduction to his Histories, Herodotus wrote that his purpose was “to prevent the traces of human events from being erased by time, and to preserve the fame of the important and remarkable achievements of Greeks and non-Greeks.”
For more than two millennia, Herodotus has inspired historians to narrate the “important and remarkable achievements” of their ancestors. As the human past also has a dark side, historians must also preserve a countervailing record of war and oppression, of injustice and suffering. History can be heroic and it can be tragic; its use (or misuse) can inspire great deeds and terrible atrocities. More than anything, history is human: history is the story – or rather the many stories – of how we became who we are.
What Can I Do With a History Degree?
Students who study History can expect to develop the research, analytical, and communication skills necessary for success in today’s competitive job market. A History degree offers a well-rounded foundation for:
- Graduate work
- Study of law
- Archival and library sciences
- Many possible vocations in business and the professions
Gonzaga Historians Take an Active Approach to the Study of History
Department members teach both entry-level survey courses and more specialized upper-division courses. We also teach First-Year Seminars, Core Integrated Seminars (for seniors), and a senior thesis class (HIST 401) that directs every History major toward the completion of an original work of history.