Research and Internships
The History Department encourages study abroad. We will gladly count courses taken
abroad toward your History major. Members of the History faculty have led courses
abroad to places like Ireland, China, and Cuba in May Term. The university offers
its own satellite programs in London, England and Barcelona, Spain that have been
directed by History faculty. And there are other numerous opportunities to study
abroad for a semester or full year. One of the premier opportunities is the Pembroke
Program. Due to a special relationship between IWU and Pembroke College at Oxford
University, a handful of Wesleyan students are selected every year to spend a year
at Oxford. Despite the highly selective nature of this program, our History majors
have had great success being accepted into it: Stephanie Carlson in 2013-2014, Sophie
Popovich in 2015-2016, and Selena Shen in 2016-2017. You, too, could join this illustrious
Stephanie Carlson '15
Oxford University 2013-2014
Sophie Popovich '17
Oxford University 2015-2016
Selena Shen '18
Oxford University 2016-2017
Amy Coles lectures students in the comitium at Paestum, Italy during the Ancient Roman
City May Term class, 2010.
Dr. Weis' students stand alongside a sugar cooperative during the Cuban Revolution
May Term class, 2003.
Dr. Weis has also taken students to Nigeria, Japan, England, Italy, and Spain.
Professor April Schultz, with Professor of Sociology Georganne Sundblad, with students
in Allihies, Ireland, 2003, where they studied the 19th century Great Famine and Irish
emigration to the United States.
We have created two prizes for our majors that we award at graduation. Each prize
is accompanied by a certificate of recognition, a book in the area of the student’s
special interest, and a small cash award. The Christopher Berkeley prize is named
in memory of a former student, and we award it to the graduating senior who best exemplifies
the kind of enthusiasm and love of history that Chris had. The Paul Bushnell prize
is named after a retired member of our department who was an exemplary teacher and
civil rights activist. We award this prize to the graduating major who was the most
outstanding student teacher of the year.
Click here to see the Berkeley Prize Certificate
Christopher Tatara '14
Christopher Tatara, history major and international studies minor, tailored his senior
seminar research around his interest in Russian history and U.S.-Soviet Russian relations.
Tatara also played euphonium at Illinois Wesleyan, performing with several ensembles
including the “World’s Most Dangerous Pep Band.”
During May Term, he traveled to Moscow and St. Petersburg before starting an internship
in New York City with the Scholars At Risk Network.
The faculty really care about the students and this shows in the fact that they don't
let their students become complacent. They don't let them settle for just enough.
Faculty challenge them, whether it's to practice harder to master that piece, or nail
down that research paper and get it perfect. All the faculty wants to see their students
not just thrive but excel, and that's one of my absolute favorite things about Illinois
Wesleyan. – Christopher Tatara '14
What is the Senior Seminar?
The Senior Seminar is the capstone class for history major, and modeled after a graduate
course in history. We spend our time researching a topic of our choice within the
overarching theme of the course, which in my class is War and Revolution in 20th-century
You really get to know your topic, and become an expert on one slice of history. We
write an independent research paper which we present to our class, receive critiques
from classmates, as well as our professor, and finally write the final paper and put
it all together.
Outside of that, there are other opportunities. I presented my senior seminar work
at the John Wesley Powell Research Conference here at Illinois Wesleyan, which is an undergraduate research conference hosted every
spring. That was a unique opportunity and one I very much enjoyed doing.
What are your impressions of classmates’ projects?
I'm very impressed sometimes by the quality of work that my peers, my fellow students
produce. Some of the papers were extremely impressive, very, very well written. I
hope they think the same of mine. But I'm constantly impressed by the quality of students
here—not just in their academic abilities, but their character as well.
What will you do after graduation?
I didn't originally come in as a history major, so there was a lot of switching of
tracks and study abroad just wouldn't have worked. But I am actually going to Russia
this May with two of the professors and some other students. That's my May Term travel course. We’ll be mostly in Moscow and St. Petersburg. I'm very excited, because
that's where my interest in history is: Russian history, U.S. and Soviet Russian relations.
Then this summer in New York, I'll be working for the Scholars at Risk network, which
is a nonprofit that works with issues relating to academic freedom and human rights.
More specifically, they work in advocacy for scholars who are imprisoned in their
home countries because of their research or political activism. The Scholars at Risk
network matches applicants up with universities and other places where they can continue
working and get them out of harm's way, whether it's in some cases war and actual
physical violence, or intimidation or threats of arrests, things like that. The office
in New York is a very small group of really dedicated people and they rely on their
interns, so it's an opportunity to do substantive work. I'm very excited.
Why did you choose Wesleyan?
It just felt right. There was something about the campus and the people that felt
like home in a way, that I could spend four whole years of my life here.
And how has IWU worked out?
My experiences at Illinois Wesleyan have been absolutely wonderful and I don't regret
making that decision in any way. It's a great environment to both just live and learn.
There were always struggles and frustrations and a lot of hard work, a lot of late
nights in the library or in the practice room, but it's all worth it in the end.