Message from the Undergraduate Chair

Undergraduate Chair, Jonathan Vance

Welcome to the History Department, where you can explore thousands of years of the human experience in all its complexity and diversity. The past is endlessly provocative – but also endlessly entertaining and absorbing. Whether you’re interested in politics or people, empire or environments, war, love, capitalism, pirates or zombies, we have courses that will make you think.

The study of history is not just learning about things that happened years ago. We are all products of the past, and everything we do is conditioned by historical forces that may go back centuries. Ultimately, History tells us how we got to today – and may help us to chart a course for tomorrow.

Understanding history is also about the imagination. To make sense of the past, we have to look at it on its own terms, rather than according to modern assumptions. Seeing the past through the eyes of those who lived it requires historical imagination – imagination that is informed by critical thinking and analytical skills. History allows us to research, to ask questions, to debate, to write – with the whole range of human experience as the backdrop. Our graduates go on to careers in law, government, the arts, education, IT, finance – all using the skills they developed while studying history.

When you sign up for a history course, be prepared to be intrigued, appalled, provoked, angered, surprised, but most of all engaged. And you may just find that the past holds the key to your future!

Jonathan Vance

Distinguished University Professor, J.B. Smallman Chair, and Undergraduate Chair