Curriculum Overview and Department Goals

Curriculum Overview

As a history major, you will take:

  • A sophomore seminar, HIST 290: The Theory and Crafting of History, and
  • A capstone seminar in historical research, 490: Capstone Seminar in History.

These courses are about the tools of the trade. They emphasize researching, analyzing, and writing.

You will will build your Signature Experience by:

  • Choosing courses from one or more of the Pathways (see Crafting Your Historical Pathway at Illinois Wesleyan),
  • Completing an ePortfolio chronicling your journey in four, .25-credit, advisor-led ARCHES sessions, HIST 390: ARCHES (Archiving and Reflecting on the Course of your History Education and Signature Experience), and
  • Taking a Pathways Signature Experience Seminar chosen from HIST 451–454 to work on a project of your own devising.

For guidance and detailed information about the Department of History Signature Experience Pathways, see Crafting Your Historical Pathway at Illinois Wesleyan.

As a history major, you are free to choose any other eight courses in history to complete the major, as long as:

  • At least three of the eight are upper-level courses,
  • One covers pre-1800 history, and,
  • Three are courses in each of these geographical areas: the U.S., Europe, and Asia/Latin America. Note: One or more of these courses may double-count as the pre-1800 requirement.

For a particularly meaningful scholarly experience, you may undertake an honors research project in any of the Pathways in close consultation with faculty members.

Your major courses will help you polish your writing and speaking skills through debates, position papers, and constant in-class discussion.

You’ll also take courses outside your major in such areas as English, foreign language, and the fine arts, benefiting from our university-wide emphasis on the liberal arts to develop the interdisciplinary tools and perspective you as a historian will need.

Department Goals

Goals in Relation to the University at Large

  • To contribute a range of courses for the General Education program.
  • To provide a curriculum for the study of history as a major discipline.
  • To produce a range of courses contributing to the curricula of interdisciplinary programs, such as International Studies, American Studies, Women’s Studies, Greek & Roman Studies, and Environmental Studies.

Learning Outcomes for History Majors

After earning a degree in History at IWU, students will:

  1. Understand the breadth and depth of history by:
    1. Studying the key historical processes of at least three geographical areas at the 100 level,
    2. Examining pre-1800 history in at least one course, and
    3. Engaging in the in-depth study of historical subjects or periods in at least four upper-level courses.
  2. Think critically by developing skills such as:
    1. Appreciating both the objective and the subjective elements of historical inquiry,
    2. Reading, understanding, analyzing, and evaluating texts, particularly within their own historical contexts,
    3. Discerning causes and effects of events, thoughts, and activities, and
    4. Honing the ability to approach a myriad of facts, and to prioritize and structure those facts through the identification and application of various historical themes. Themes/categories would include, for example, thought/ideology, gender, class, race, global relationships of domination/subjugation, culture, politics, and economics.
  3. Research effectively by:
    1. Identifying an appropriate research question,
    2. Locating appropriate written texts, both primary and secondary,
    3. Learning to interrogate one’s sources, and
    4. Knowing how to use responsibly the ideas of others in shaping and refining one’s own.
  4. Effectively communicate the findings of historical inquiry orally and, most particularly, through scholarly writing.
  5. Critique responsibly the scholarly work of others.