History is a set of evolving rules and tools that allows us to interpret processes and phenomena in the past with clarity and rigor. It requires evidence, sophisticated use of information, and a deliberative stance to explain change and continuity over time. As a profoundly public pursuit, it is essential to active and empathetic public engagement and world citizenship and requires effective communication to make the past accessible for multiple audiences. It is a craft with a set of professional ethics and standards that demand peer review, citation, and toleration for the provisional nature of knowledge.
The History major at UC Merced emphasizes the many ways in which connections between regions and nations have existed over time. All students gain a familiarity with world history, learn interpretive skills, and take at least one course focused on research, and also undertake a capstone research project; they have the opportunity to apply their classroom learning to research problems outside the classroom, where they can contribute to expanding public knowledge and awareness of cultural issues. Students may explore thematic topics such as environmental history, the history of science and technology, the history of migration and cultural intersections, as well as issues of world, national, state and local history.
Though rooted in the study of the past, the tools employed by historians are useful in a broad array of modern careers and professions. History, with its focus on research, writing, and argumentation, is well known as an excellent preparation for graduate school, law school, and other professions. History majors may also find employment related to their degrees in schools, museums, editing and publishing, archives, historic preservation, federal, state and local agencies, and as consultants and contractors.
History Program Learning Outcomes
Upon graduation, History Majors will have achieved the following learning outcomes. While they are listed separately, success in the major will be demonstrated by the integration of these in the Capstone Seminar.
- Historical Knowledge
- Place particular events in broader historical contexts, including broad patterns of historical change, structures and representations of power, and forms of identity.
- Analyze change over time.
- Explain how events of the past have influenced the present.
- Critical Thinking
- Analyze primary sources
- Assess the relationship between historical contexts and events, ideas and processes.
- Identify and summarize an author’s argument.
- Identify points of agreement and disagreement among conflicting interpretations of the past.
- Construct a well-developed thesis and a persuasive argument.
- Research Skills
- Use the library, relevant databases and indexes, and the Internet to identify and locate sources.
- Develop bibliographies of primary and secondary sources.
- Master conventions for citations and bibliographies.
- Produce an original research paper (20-page minimum) that analyzes primary and secondary sources.
- Written and Oral Communication Skills
- Organize an analytical essay that sustains an argument over the entire length of the paper.
- Present information in lucid, grammatically correct prose.
- Construct paragraphs with effective topic sentences.
- Make a well-organized and clear oral presentation.