History Department: Why Study History at HPU?

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Why Study History?

Choosing a major as you enter a university is one of the most important decisions you will ever make.  It is, therefore, worth considering your choices carefully.  A student's first two years of college offer an invaluable opportunity to explore various disciplines and approaches to knowledge while building the foundations for more specialized study at the junior and senior levels.  HPU's low student-teacher ratio provides personal contact with professors who will be eager to discuss their discipline in general or their program in particular, to recommend further reading or a specific upper division course, and to introduce prospective majors to juniors or seniors who can share their experiences in a particular major program.

The major you choose will help you decide on a career, but a major is not a career choice in itself.  Instead, you should consider a major that will provide you skills you can use in pursuit of a variety of occupations.  Moreover, you will want to choose a major that will provide you more than a diploma; one that will enrich your life for years to come.  If you are interested in a major that will equip you with marketable skills and will provide personal enrichment, then the study of history may be for you.

History, the study of the human past, lends perspective on the world and on human culture.  Historians try to understand the sum total of human experience.  It is possible to study the history of almost anything: not only traditional topics such as politics and war, but also science, society, culture and the environment.  Because the concerns of the modern world are perpetually changing, history is a never-ending project.  Accurate knowledge about the past is vital if society is to understand the present.  There has never been a time when history was more vital than in the Information Age.  Historians take information and create knowledge.  History challenges students to discover and analyze a wide variety of evidence, and then use that to describe and explain the world with an understanding made possible only through hindsight.

The study of history encourages the student to transcend the limits of the present and to cross boundaries of language, culture, space, and time.  As a solid liberal arts discipline, history fosters a high level of intellectual skills: analytical reasoning, moral judgement, sensitivity to cause and effect, commitment to objectivity, and ability to tell a coherent story.  History majors develop competencies in research, writing and foreign languages.  Additionally, history fosters a sympathetic imagination for the lives of real people who lived in the past - a hallmark of well-rounded liberal arts education.

Why Study History at HPU?

The History major at Hawai'i Pacific University provides a solid foundation in the field of History and its methodologies.  It offers broad geographic and chronological exposure to the past through a carefully structured sequence of courses offering in-depth study in the areas of American, Asian, European, and Pacific history.  Entering History majors learn historical skills in an introductory seminar course called the Historian's Craft and, after completing required courses in their field, take a capstone seminar, which offers a significant opportunity for research and synthesis in a specialty area.  The History major develops skills and a base of knowledge to prepare for graduate study in history, and also serves as an avenue to the many careers that require research, writing, analysis, foreign language ability, and multi-cultural sensitivity.

One of the main emphases of the History program at HPU is world history.  World history analyzes themes and concepts through a global and comparative approach, and encourages students to make connections across boundaries of time and space.  Using this method, world history promotes a thorough understanding of the complex webs of interaction that underlie the ever-increasing trend of globalization.  Hawai'i Pacific University's multicultural setting and diverse student body present a unique opportunity for studying history from a truly global and international perspective.  The history major at HPU will heighten understanding of diversity and difference, and offers an opportunity to acquire the skills that shape the world we live in.