Alma's Unique Approach to History
The study of history provides a historical perspective, which contributes uniquely to an understanding of the complexity of factors - economic (E), social (S), political (P), intellectual (I) and technological (T) - that affect human behavior as well as the historical interpretation (H), which explains that behavior. Course offerings in History vary in emphasis. Students may identify central course themes by noting the explanatory caption, e.g. (ESPI). All courses that satisfy the general education requirement focus on the principal economic, social, technological, political and intellectual problems in particular historical eras (see General Education Objectives of Alma for details).
All courses require students to analyze historical factors and to communicate the results of such analysis in oral and written forms. History is appropriate for careers in law, journalism, industrial management, banking, civil service, library and museum management, ministry, politics and teaching. Many history students take advantage of the exceptional off-campus opportunities offered by the Department. Each year several utilize the Posey Global Fellows Program for support of international internships. This year, for example, students will be working on every continent under the Posey Global Program. In addition to these opportunities, we have a variety of specially funded summer internships, such as the Kinney Scholarship to support study of a Bill of Rights related issue.
Since we historically have been a department that trains many future attorneys, we offer courses in both U.S. and continental legal traditions. To assure the quality of these offerings, our U.S. legal history courses are taught by a professor with both a Ph.D. and J.D. from one the nations best law programs.
The Department's Spring Term classes are exceptional, taking full advantage of Alma's one-month semester, when students take only one course. In 2007 and again in 2009, Professor Liping Bu is offering her Spring Term class trip to China. In 2008, Prof. Furlong will lead his widely recognized class to London for research in the British archives on World War II. For the eighth time, Prof. Lorenz will lead his Comparative Public Policy class to Mexico. Students also have the option of spending an entire semester abroad at a partnering university across the globe.
Similarly, virtually all history courses at Alma emphasize a multinational or global perspective - noted by the caption (GP). The commitment to a global perspective is a special feature of the study of history at Alma and has influenced our decision to staff our department with faculty trained in some of the best institutions in the world. While all our faculty hold one or more degrees from premier U.S. institutions, three of five full-time faculty also have a degree from a university outside the U.S. (Beijing University, University of Cape Town, and the University of Toronto).
Commitment to Our Students
Through the generosity of our history alumni, the Alma History Department also offers special awards and unique support for graduate education (for study after Alma). Alma juniors can apply for the Mitchell and Jean Fox Abruzzino Awards that both recognize excellence and provide additional financial support for study in the last year at Alma. Then in the senior year, the Department awards approximately $25,000 annually through the M.J.J. Smith Fellowships for graduate or professional school tuition. Virtually no college or university offers such support for students to attend graduate school and the award reflects the historic commitment of the Department to support our majors.
"To be able to learn history from a European-centered classroom was very different and very exciting. They [Professors] have such a different perspective on, even little things like Lend-lease program during WWII or on why the Soviet Union collapsed. It was so different and exciting-It was such a learning experience. That was the defining time for me, when I really grew up and learned how to be independent and learn for myself and live on my own"
-Katelyn Bush '07, on her semester abroad in Scotland.