Welcome to the History Department
In the History Department, we like to think of history as the most comprehensive and foundational discipline of all. But of course, most departments would claim that for their discipline. Perhaps a more helpful claim would be that each of our disciplines is one "lens" through which we might view the world. In that vein, the "history lens" invites us to puzzle about how things got to be the way they are today. It reminds us that one of the activities that human beings have engaged in since the beginning of time is telling stories about the past. So, part of what historians care about is coming to understand why we tell the particular stories we do, and why other people in the world tell the particular stories that they do. But you are probably wanting to know more about the practical operation of the department. And it is in that direction that we will now move.
First, the goals of the department. The department seeks to offer a program that will enable students to have several choices open to them when they graduate. First, the department seeks to prepare those students who wish to pursue graduate studies in history or related fields. Second, we offer a program that satisfies the California requirements for a secondary education subject specialty in the Social Sciences. Third, we offer a program that will be useful to those students who simply want to become broadly educated in the content and competencies of the liberal arts for moving out into the job market immediately after graduation.
A key element of the department's philosophy is to emphasize the role of the advisor. The advisor can help a student throughout college to plan their major classes, to choose supporting classes, and to take advantage of special opportunities such as internships, travel programs so that a student gets the best preparation for his or her particular goals.
Second, special emphases of the department. First, the program has an unusually strong methodological component. That is, you will be well prepared to do research, to write, and to think critically after completing a history major. This is valuable whether you decide to go on to graduate school in history or to go directly into the job market. Second, the professors supplement regular course offerings with opportunities for directed studies suited to the particular interests of individual students. Third, the history department is involved closely with Westmont's travel programs in Europe, both during the fall semester and during the Mayterm.