Introduction to History Course

If you have been reading The Way of Improvement Leads Home over the past few days, you are familiar with my recent post about the developing an “Intro to History” course for first year history majors.  At Messiah College we already have a required sophomore seminar called “Historical Methods” in which we teach students how to conduct historical research and write a research paper.  We also have a senior capstone course in historiography.  What I hope to do with this first-year course is to introduce students to the discipline and create a common experience for all of our new majors.

Here is where you come in.  What kind of topics might be useful in a course like this?  What kind of things should the “wet-behind-the-ears” freshman glean about the study of history in the first several weeks of his or her college career?  In order to give you a sense of what I hope to accomplish with this course, here are a few things I have in mind:

  • Defining history and thinking about how we study it in an academic context
  • What do historians do?  The practice of history
  • Useable past vs. past is a “foreign country.”
  • So What CAN You Do With a History Major?
  • Career and vocational planning.  (Discussion of our History Department advising and career pamphlet).
  • History at Messiah College (focus on the distinctives of our program).

What else belongs in this class?

One thought on “Introduction to History Course

  1. Knowing a little bit about Messiah students, I wonder if a good way to transition them into the discipline would be to do a little on “The Bible and History,” showing them biblical connections to historical study while also differentiating what the Scriptural authors were doing vs. what contemporary historians do. This could also raise the problem of providentialism in history.


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