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Why Study History?


The American Historical Association’s Careers for History Majors (http://www.historians.org/pubs/Free/careers/Index.htm).

Duke University President Richard Brodhead talks with Stephen Colbert about his new report on the humanities, The Heart of the Matter. August 15, 2013http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/428644/august-15-2013/richard-brodhead

For more on The Heart of the Matter, see Time magazine’s “Critics of the Liberal Arts are Wrong” (June 19, 2013). http://ideas.time.com/2013/06/19/our-economy-can-still-support-liberal-arts-majors/

 Read Marketplace’s recent article, “What do employers really want from college grads?” (March 4, 2013).http://www.marketplace.org/topics/economy/education/what-do-employers-really-want-college-grads

Career Opportunities

In today's jargon, history is not a "professional" degree; that is, the undergraduate program in history makes no promise about a specific job for which you will be "trained." All we pledge is a first class education to give you the skills to which private and public sector leaders say they award priority in hiring: finding information, thinking clearly, and writing with grace and style. The education to become a practicing historian is gained at the graduate level, and the department will work hard to place you at a research university if that is your goal. Some aim for the Ph.D., while others enter master's degree programs in applied areas where they learn to be government analysts, librarians, archivists, and museum specialists. For those wishing to teach in public schools, Coastal offers a program with a double major in history and education, which certifies you to teach at the secondary level. Prospective law school students have always found a major in history to be excellent preparation. Just recently, Coastal graduated a fine history major, whose work included a year in China, who also completed all the courses for medical school and is now studying to become a doctor.


Why Study History?  If you have ever wanted to understand your own life better, or hoped to be inspired by great people from the past, or longed to encounter people different from yourself, you have experienced the kinds of curiosity that have made people love history for centuries. History is about life and everything that makes us human, from idealism to treachery, from altruism to violence, from peace to war, and from death to sex. History is the interpretation of the past, not simply the memorization of facts. While there are certainly historical facts, doing history means interpreting those facts in order to achieve an understanding of the past.


What Do Historians Do?  How do we understand who Caesar really was? How do we explain the rise of radical Islam or the American Civil War? The History Department at Coastal Carolina University will train you to answer complex historical questions by studying the relevant historical documents, the primary sources. Why trust common knowledge or even a textbook when you can read Caesar’s own letters and make up your own mind? The thrill of sitting down with decades- or centuries-old letters, papers, diaries, books, and manuscripts has drawn many people to history, and the digital revolution has made more documents available than ever before, so it is a great time to study history.


      The Department will also train you to address the scholarly literature on your subject, the historiography. Contrary to popular belief, historical interpretations are constantly changing, as new evidence comes to light, and as historians ask new questions or answer old questions in new ways. Historians often correct popular misconceptions. You still sometimes hear, for instance, that Europeans in Christopher Columbus’ day believed that the world was flat, but there is a vast body of historical evidence to show that most fifteenth-century Europeans believed in a round earth.


     The History Department's faculty is a diverse group of internationally recognized experts whose interests span the globe and the calendar. Each year we produce dozens of peer-reviewed publications on subfields from the American South to modern Korea, from medieval and renaissance medical history to the modern Middle East, from the cultural history of modern Germany to the architectural history of ancient Rome, and from Colonial America to South America.


Get Involved!


> Take a survey course and get a broad understanding of an historical era.


> Do a research project in one of our more specialized upper-level courses.


      > Study abroad with our faculty in places such as Italy or England.


> Get you hands dirty doing an archaeological field-school excavation.


      > Arrange with a professor to do original archival research.


      > Challenge yourself by taking an Honors history course.


      > Find a topic you love and write a senior thesis.


      > Enroll in one of our QEP courses and pursue experiential learning.


> Do an internship for a semester or a summer.



What Careers do History Majors Pursue?  The study of history has long been seen as excellent preparation for leadership in many areas. Business leaders regularly list as highly desired certain skills fundamental to the study of history, such as critical thinking, effective writing, and persuasive speech. Some of the most common careers chosen by history majors are government analysts, attorneys, journalists, archivists, librarians, information specialists, museum educators, teachers, lobbyists, and managers in business. History Majors have achieved high levels of success in many different fields, including:


         Finance               Lloyd C. Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs


         Business              Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard


         Politics                Robert Gates, former U.S. Secretary of State


         The Law              John Roberts, Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court


         Entertainment      Edward Norton, Steve Carell, and Sacha Baron-Cohen


         Music                           Lauryn Hill