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The Study of History

Introduction. Historians continue the tradition of the public's story tellers. They chronicle events, people and developments of the human past. Students of history enjoy reading these stories and writing their own. The curriculum of the Department of History provides such students with opportunities both to learn about the past in diverse places and times and to write their own original stories. The history major is structured to model the discipline of history as inquiry, as a way to reach understanding about reality. This entails a breadth of knowledge, an in-depth look at a topic or area, mastery of many of the tools employed by the historian and a use of those tools in research and writing about a subject in which the student has an interest. Wherever possible, the fruit of this enterprise is shared at the regional Phi Alpha Theta conference, Susquehanna's Senior Scholar Day or through an internship.

Both inside and out of the classroom, faculty in the Department of History encourage students to become engaged with history. Games are played, events simulated, movies and other historical material evaluated, reports written and presented to foster active learning within the confines of the classroom. During the academic year, many history majors are employed by the department, itself, or by external agencies such as the Priestley House in Northumberland, Pa., and, in these settings, participate in the tasks of practicing historians. During the summer students also find rewarding work with research projects doing local history or vernacular architecture and at selected, paid internships with outside groups such as the Capitol Preservation Committee in Harrisburg, Pa., or with state historical organizations in Pennsylvania and other states. The old adage that learning is best had by doing is, thus, laced through the activities of the Department of History.

Honors. The departmental honors program encourages and recognizes outstanding academic performance in history. The department invites qualified students to enter the program. Candidates submit a thesis of publishable quality and present their work at a public forum. The thesis may be an expansion of earlier research projects in HIST:410 Seminar or HIST:501 Independent Study. Candidates who produce work judged of honors caliber by history faculty receive department honors at graduation.

Internship opportunities provide valuable practical experience. They also help foster the responsibility and self-discipline essential for successful future employment. Internships focus on museum work, historical restoration, archival work and special projects. Susquehanna history majors have interned at many sites. These have included the Naval Aviation History Office in Washington, D.C., the Slifer House Museum in nearby Lewisburg, the Little League Museum in South Williamsport, Pa., in the various sites of the Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission, and in the Susquehanna University Archives. Majors also can choose internships in other disciplines, such as business, sociology and political science.

Teacher Certification. A growing number of Susquehanna history graduates teach history at the middle and high school levels. Students follow the regular history major program (with the exception that their breadth courses must include a United States and European survey) and complete the required education courses to earn secondary level social studies certification. Further information on education requirements appears in the Education section.

Study Abroad experiences complement the university's commitment to a broad liberal arts education. The department encourages history majors to spend a semester or full academic year studying abroad. Approved programs include the Institute of European Studies, which offers courses in Madrid, Rome, Paris and many other European cities. The department has also previously offered a two-week intensive study program in Focus: Southern Africa. For more information about the university's Focus programs, click here.

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