The Revival of the History Major at Yale

Yale History

According to this article in the Yale Daily News, history is the most popular major among the class of 2019.

Here is a taste:

History is the most popular major among members of the class of 2019 who have already declared, signaling a potential return for what was once Yale’s most popular program of study.

Until the early 2000s, the history major was the largest at Yale before its popularity began to wane, which History Director of Undergraduate Studies Alan Mikhail said was consistent with a national trend. History is the third-most popular major in the classes of 2017 and 2018, trailing behind economics and political science. Students who are not majoring in science, technology, engineering and math fields are required to declare their major no later than the start of their junior year, while students in STEM fields are expected to do so during their sophomore year.

“In enrollments, majors and faculty, Yale History has historically been one of the largest departments at Yale,” Mikhail said. “It is one of the most renowned history departments anywhere. Our faculty publish books that change the profession and sometimes even the world.”

The recent revival of interest in history stands in contrast to a trend among undergraduates nationwide away from the humanities and toward STEM fields. According to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the number of bachelor’s degrees that American universities conferred in the humanities has been declining steadily every year, with one report noting an 8.7 percent drop from 2012 to 2014.

Mikhail attributed history’s increased ranking to the department’s efforts in restructuring the major to allow students to focus on a specific topic. The department also revamped its course offerings, hired new faculty and sponsored campuswide events to engage the entire Yale community in matters of historical inquiry and thought, he added.

“I think our current historical moment is also drawing students to history,” Mikhail said. “Both economic and political modeling failed to predict and then address the financial crisis of a few years ago and to forecast the outcome of the election of 2016. The tools of historians are better suited to the work of understanding the world.”

Read the rest here. Let’s hope that this is the start of a trend.

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