2023-2024 College Catalog

History, Bachelor of Arts

Department Chair:

Jason Antrosio



Chad L. Anderson; Kyle Burke; Cherilyn M. Lacy








The mission of Hartwick’s History Department is to teach students how to engage critically with the past. Societies, institutions, technologies, and ideas have changed over time, and to analyze those changes and understand the relationship between past and present, historians need well-developed interpretive and expressive skills. We teach students to “do” history by helping them learn how to analyze written and material evidence, and then use that evidence to test generalizations about the past -- including their own. We strive to ignite in all history majors the joys of historical discovery that starts with meaningful questions about the past.

As students progress through the major, they learn about the history of different eras and world regions, and develop a greater depth of knowledge about a particular topic and region of interest to them. Students build their understanding from two required, thematic introductory surveys in American and in Global histories. They acquire depth of knowledge as they complete two required Concentrations in any of the following four areas of history: American, Latin American, European, or Global. And they refine their knowledge and skills as practicing historians through a required course in historical methods (HIST 322) and through the department’s distinctive 300-level seminars. These seminars immerse students in current, thematic and theoretical approaches to historical issues such as why slavery developed in some parts of Latin America and the Caribbean but not in others; how the idea of the “Renaissance” has framed Western perceptions of modernity; why diseases like cholera challenged dominant political and economic ideas in industrial Europe; or how perceptions formed during the Cold War still influence current US foreign relations. Typically small classes of 8-15 students, the seminars foster a stimulating intellectual environment in which students and faculty collaborate closely as colleagues and build a mentoring relationship that culminates in the senior research project. This substantial achievement is celebrated each Fall and Spring, when Capstone and Thesis students present their research in a public defense. For History majors the challenge of this research project is one of the most memorable and satisfying aspects of their Hartwick education.

History courses at Hartwick emphasize active student learning through discussion, group work, peer critiques, individual presentations, and analysis of documents or material remains of past cultures. This active learning extends to self-discovery, as students are encouraged to reflect on their own political commitments and intellectual passions that drive their engagements with the past. History courses, and the history faculty, are deeply integrated with many of Hartwick’s interdisciplinary minors, such as Museum Studies, Peace and Conflict, Race and Ethnic Studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies, and provide students with rich opportunities to explore their interests across disciplines.

Our goals for all students in history courses are that they develop the skills that help them achieve meaningful answers to their questions. They learn how to construct a clear, historical argument or thesis statement that is capable of being tested with primary source evidence, and how to analyze that primary source evidence with reference to its appropriate historical context. They analyze differing secondary historical accounts of the past and evaluate what may have influenced historians to interpret the same events differently. And because history is a communal activity that connects the individual to many broader communities, our major prepares students to communicate their ideas effectively in written and spoken forms.

Experiential Learning Opportunities

Students further enrich their academic programs through a variety of learning opportunities offered by the department beyond the classroom. Students can design independent reading and research projects with faculty approval that allow them to delve more deeply into an area of particular interest. The department has offered off-campus January Term programs in France, England, and the Czech Republic. Some majors have pursued semester-long programs at universities in France, Wales, Mexico, Ireland, and Spain. Others have taken advantage of Hartwick’s Duffy Scholarships to realize their own, independent research projects in Colombia, Cuba, New Zealand, Italy, and England. Majors also undertake internships in areas that relate to their academic field and future career goals. For example, during January Term, history majors have served as teaching aides, clerks at law firms, or as members of museum staff. Semester-long programs in Washington, DC, Boston, Philadelphia, or New York also mix classroom experience in urban universities with internships in Congress or other institutions in the public and private spheres.

FlightPath and Career Preparation

In all, the diverse coursework and other opportunities offered by the history department are designed to meet the needs and intellectual interests of a variety of students, including those who want to become professional historians. The analytical, research, and writing skills acquired through the history major are also excellent preparation for careers in law, administration, marketing and communications, secondary education, government, libraries, records management, museums, and many more fields.