David Imhoof, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of History
It’s important for students to attend a university where professors are doing research in their field. A research ethos raises the level of academic excellence. Professors whose goal is to publish in academic journals and have their work be recognized encourage their students toward excellence. When I get students’ papers and critique the hell out of them, I can say, I feel your pain. Because when I send an academic paper I’ve written out for review, I sometimes get the same thing. My research studies the connection between culture and politics in 20th-century Germany. My book, Becoming a Nazi Town, will come out with University of Michigan Press in 2013, and I'm now working on a history of the recording industry in Germany.
I tell students that the way to get better as writers, as researchers, as thinkers, as marketing experts is to use this comfortable, supportive atmosphere for taking your lumps. So that when you’re ready to go out there and work professionally, you’ll be ready. Another practical benefit is that the better recognized the faculty and university are because of this emphasis on teacher-scholars, the greater the value of your degree.
In the classroom, I try to give students multiple ways to connect with history. Most come to college without an overarching sense of why periods in history matter. They’ve been taught for many years to memorize names and dates. Students may understand history better by looking at art of a certain period, or listening to music or thinking about the political ideology of that time. I want them to think about that bigger picture. I’m ultimately encouraging students to think critically about things they read, images they see and music they listen to.
I studied in Austria as a college student and want Susquehanna students to have the same kind of life-changing experience that I did there. So, I developed the three-week GO Austria program where we study the history and culture of that country. Susquehanna students meet with Austrian students to discuss their history—good and bad—and how it shapes their perspective of what it means to be Austrian. Likewise, our students get asked some tough questions about American foreign policy and other current issues which force them to examine their cultural heritage in a broader, and perhaps different, light.
Some students are surprised to know that majoring in history will give them many employment opportunities. Like most of the liberal arts degrees, studying history teaches you above all how to think critically, how to analyze problems and how to express yourself effectively. These are skills that employers in most any career field look for in new hires.
What Is Susquepedia?
Suhs-kwuh-pee-dee-uh (n): A collection of experiences, topics, and personalities that makes Susquehanna University unique.