A profile of the History Department
Take a look at what past grads from Witt have done with their majors – internships, grad school programs, and first jobs after graduation. It’s not always as cut and dried as you think; a Liberal Arts degree has a lot of flexibility!
Rich in variety
Wittenberg’s history program is distinguished by its global orientation, wide course variety, opportunities for learning outside the classroom, and close interaction between students and a dedicated faculty of teacher-scholars. The history department actively utilizes discussion groups, colloquia, seminars, internships, local history and study abroad to develop oral and written communication skills, research capabilities, and critical and analytical aptitude. A history major or minor is the springboard for any number of careers and professional opportunities.
The history department offers a wide range of courses in both the pre-modern and modern eras, covering many geographic areas, themes and topics. Examples include:
- 105: The Pre-Modern World
- 106: The Modern World
- 111: Medieval Civilization
- 135: Latin American Civilizations
- 161: Pre-Modern East Asia
- 170: Topics in African History
- 210: Topics in the History of the Ancient World
- 215: German History
- 221 and 222: United States History
- 229: American Film
- 230: African American History
- 242: Modern Britain
- 252: History of Russia Since 1917
- 263: Age of the Samurai
- 281: Modern Middle East
- 315: Islam and the West
- 319: European Women’s History
- 332: American Constitutional History
- 362: Japan Since 1945
- 411: Senior Seminar
Learning outside the classroom
Travel, research, internships—these are some of the opportunities for history majors to extend their education beyond classroom walls. We encourage our majors to take one of their upper-level courses as an independent study (working one-on-one with a professor to research a particular area of interest) or an internship. An internship allows you to explore the practical application of history and “public history” in a variety of museums, businesses and offices. Recent internship sites include the Clark County Historical Society, the Springfield Museum of Art, the Springfield Bar and Law Library, and the Motorcycle Heritage Museum.
In the past five years, our professors have taken students to Paris, Lesotho, the United Kingdom and Egypt, as well as local sites of interest in Springfield and the surrounding area. Students also take advantage of local resources to complete research projects. History majors have also participated recently in the archeological excavation of a local nineteenth-century house which may have been a stop on the Underground Railroad.
Recent history graduates have moved directly into a variety of full-time positions. Some examples include:
- Legislative assistant, State of Pennsylvania
- Human rights intern, The United Nations
- Lutheran Volunteer Corps
- Research assistant, Carnegie Institute
- Broker’s assistant, Merrill Lynch
- Financial consultant, Independent Capital Management
- Teach for America
- Japan Exchange and Teaching Program
- Ohio Historical Society
- Social studies teacher
- Cincinnati Children’s Museum
Other majors attend graduate or professional school, such as:
- University of California at Berkeley • University of Chicago
- University of Cincinnati
- George Washington University
- Indiana University
- London School of Economics
- Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary
- The Ohio State University
- SUNY Buffalo
The History Journal: Published annually, this journal is staffed and edited by history majors who review and edit historical papers submitted by other students. The Wittenberg History Journal is one of the few undergraduate
publications of its kind in the country.
Phi Alpha Theta: Wittenberg’s chapter of the history international honor society was founded in 1949. Chapter members from Wittenberg have won awards at the Phi Alpha Theta Regional Conference.
History Talks: Students gather to talk informally about issues that interest
them. Sessions are lively, and all majors and minors are encouraged to attend. Students also organize field trips to local sites of interest.
Conference opportunities: Students may want to consider a variety of venues for presenting their work to the Wittenberg community and beyond.
The 411 Experience: Senior history majors take a capstone course that synthesizes all their historical skills and allows them to practice professional history. Students conduct historical research in primary documents about a topic of their choice, with the guidance of history faculty, and produce a large research paper. All students present their papers at the Senior History Conference near the end of each semester.
All history faculty and majors attend the annual colloquium series, which has featured many nationally-known historians and speakers. Recent lectures include:
- “Cultural Mixture in a Divided World,” by Natalie Zemon Davis, Princeton University
- “Changing Bases of Humanistic Practice,” by Edward Said, Columbia University
- “History and Biography: Ulysses S. Grant,” by William S. McFeely, University of Georgia
- “Explosive Memory: Contemporary American Controversies Over the Atomic Bomb,” by Laura Hein, Northwestern University
- “The Korean War 50 Years After and its Impact on the Current Situation,” Bruce Cumings, University of Chicago
- “A Historian Looks at the Brown Decision,” Michael Les Benedict, Ohio State University
- “Why Latin Americans Dance,” by John Chasteen, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill