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The Study of History

Introduction. Historians use narratives to analyze the past and describe its importance to our day. The Department of History offers courses that cover every continent and encourage a global view of the past and the present. The history major is structured to model the discipline of history as a way to look at the world. Majors study a breadth of knowledge, take an in-depth look at one specific topic or area, and learn to use the tools of the historian. Their work culminates in a substantial senior thesis that may then be presented in a variety of public forums. History majors also learn to apply their broad skills – the ability to read, analyze, and communicate effectively – in various settings that open up many future opportunities for post-graduate work or study.

Both inside and out of the classroom, faculty in the Department of History help students become engaged with history. From introductory to senior-level courses, students take an active part in studying and evaluating the past. Rather than merely learning and absorbing information, students dig into historical material themselves and draw conclusions individually and in groups. During the academic year and the summer many history majors work as practicing historians in the department itself, on projects directed by faculty members, in local and regional museums or agencies, and for historical organizations from Maine to Virginia. Other history students use internships in law, marketing, financial analysis, and other fields to focus their abilities.

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 non-history related subjects, such as law or finance. Susquehanna history majors have interned at many sites. These have included the Naval Aviation History Office in Washington, D.C., Legg Mason Global Asset Management in Baltimore, Md., the Slifer House Museum in nearby Lewisburg, the Little League Museum in South Williamsport, Pa., the various sites of the Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission, the Susquehanna University Archives, U.S. government agencies, and law firms.

Teacher Certification. Each year some Susquehanna history graduates go on to 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 a European survey) and complete the required education courses to earn secondary level social studies certification. Further information on education requirements appear in the Education section.

Study Away 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 off campus. Students have studied abroad recently, for instance, in Cambridge, Rome, Freiburg, Capetown, Vienna, Cork, Dublin, Madrid, London, Edinburgh, and Florence. History majors have likewise spent time studying and working in Washington, D.C., through the university’s relationship with American University. The department has also organized trips for students during spring breaks and summer to Europe and Asia.

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