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The study of history fulfills the goals of a liberal arts education by freeing students from narrowness of vision and teaching them how to think critically about the past. Historical understanding rests on the assumption of the uniqueness of human experiences. Considered cumulatively, those experiences allow historians to use the past to better understand the present. When a person can think clearly about the past, alternatives in the present and future become more readily perceptible. The department seeks to enable students to think about change over time, and the variety of factors that influence historical change. Students are exposed to the diversity of history across time and space, balancing a strong foundation in American and European history with an awareness of the complexities of other areas of the world.
As an integral component of a rigorous liberal arts education, the study of history in the department is necessarily humanistic. Students are aware that people are shaped by their historical context and that this has a major effect on what people consider acceptable in a particular time period. Nevertheless, they learn the importance of human contingency. Faculty and coursework encourage students to see themselves as agents of historical change. Ultimately, the department helps students to understand their civic responsibility, by enhancing their knowledge of their own political system and culture and those of other countries.
Instruction in the department is designed to introduce the student to the historical method. Students learn how to analyze historical sources and to understand bias and prejudice in historical interpretation. They also learn that the limits of the historical record necessarily restrict our understanding of the past, a fact that encourages rather than discourages the development of interpretive skills. Analytical thinking, an emphasis on written and oral expression, and the ability to present reasoned arguments and to write persuasively are skills that graduates can use regardless of their vocation. Recent graduates have entered advanced degree programs in history, law, business administration, international relations, library science, and religion. Most students enter the work place at graduation, going into business, education, government and other professional fields.
Anselm College, a Benedictine, Catholic, Liberal Arts College
100 Saint Anselm Drive, Manchester, New Hampshire 03102
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Copyrighted by the History Department, Saint Anselm College, 2006.