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 learn interpretive skills, take at least one course focused on research, and undertake a capstone research project. Students also 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.
A history degree provides graduates with the skills necessary to succeed in a broad array of careers. With its focus on research, writing, and persuasive argumentation, history degrees are widely recognized as excellent preparation for graduate school and law school. Majors regularly become successful history and social studies teachers. Many find employment at museums where they design exhibits and interact with members of the public, in the editing and publishing field, and at archives and research libraries. Some consult for private engineer/architectural historic preservation firms. Local, state, and federal historical parks employ historians to provide K-12 students and other members of the public with understandings of the past. The skills you gain in a History major can also be used in a wide range of fields that are not explicitly historical, as the ability to evaluate and analyze information, draw appropriate conclusions, and write persuasively are broadly applicable in the governmental, non-profit, and business worlds. Those who have studied history have used their skills in areas as varied as journalism, television production, financial analysis, and project management.
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.