A report released by the National History Center has shed light on the status of the university’s history department. It appears it is keeping up with comparable programs; however, there is still room for improvement.
The report suggested that history departments nationwide focus on broader ideas instead of solely names and dates, and the university’s history program has already been emphasizing this concept.
But one thing the report and the program do not agree on is the feasibility of requiring specializations in the undergraduate curriculum. History professor Jodi Campbell pointed out that students would be better off taking a wide variety of classes rather than studying a specific topic in-depth. Graduate school will give students a chance to specialize, she said.
She is right. Students should be able to explore various corners of the discipline so they can gain insight on what they would like to study further at graduate school.
Furthermore, to require concentrations would pigeonhole students into a topic about which they might not be passionate. It would also strain the university’s resources to provide experts in specific areas.
The current state of the history department allows students to specialize if they’d like. Students interested in Asian history can enroll in classes such as Asian Civilization courses and The Vietnam War. Students interested in American history can concentrate on classes such as The American Presidency or Civil War and Reconstruction. These opportunities allow students to show off their interests to prospective graduate schools when they look at their transcripts.
Even though a wider array of specializations would be helpful, the department is doing a good job in staying reasonable with its given resources. The program has room to grow, but there is no problem with taking it one step at a time.
Web editor Saerom Yoo for the editorial board.