History, as a discipline at Northwestern, aims to assist you in the development of an informed perspective on the human past. Such a perspective is integral to a Christian liberal arts education. Lacking a sense of history, a person skims through life on the thin surface of the present. With the study of history, however, one can begin to comprehend the deep currents of culture which shape our lives and those of others today. With this comprehension, one is well poised not only to reflect on the past, but also to apply insights gained thereby to resolving the problems of the present and future. History is therefore a discipline which looks backward in order to move forward; it is, in the words of one distinguished historian, “the search for a usable past.”
At Northwestern, history is taught consciously from a Christian perspective. Recognizing that there is no such thing as history written or studied from a “neutral” point of view, the department attempts to study history in the light of the Christian faith while appreciating and drawing on the aid of history written out of other commitments.
Students naturally are concerned about vocational opportunities beyond graduation. After graduation, you’ll have a wide variety of options open to you because the study of history provides both basic training in disciplined thought and expression as well as a rich framework of knowledge within which to deal with contemporary challenges. Those who concentrate on the study of history therefore may pursue careers in education at every level. Others may go on to full-time historical research or archive management (whether in the business sector or in public institutions). Still others will find the study of history to provide a desirable foundation for graduate studies in law, pastoral ministry, and business, as well as for careers in political, civil, and diplomatic service.
Northwestern College believes, however, that the serious study of history should not be confined to those who major in the field and so introduces it to all students. The history department agrees with this emphasis, and goes beyond it to welcome all students, regardless of major, to extend their understanding of history through further courses taken as electives.
History department homepage
HIS 150 -
Introduction to Historical Inquiry
An introduction to the principles and techniques involved in the study of history. This course will include both reflection and practice, consideration of ideas and actual application, through exercises drawing on primary and secondary materials.Prerequisite: HIS101.(2 credits)
HIS 201HP -
History of the United States to 1865
This course surveys United States history until the Civil War. It gives
students a broad exposure to significant trends and competing narratives in
the first half of U.S. history through an integration of lectures,
discussions, readings and activities with primary and secondary sources. We
will examine the encounter between people from the Americas, Europe, and
Africa, the creation and development of the American nation state,
immigration, ethnicity, and the shifting definitions of what constitutes an
"American", movements promoting reform and social justice along the lines of
race, class, and gender, and demographic and economic changes. We will also
consider how Christians in America challenged and critiqued American life,
culture, and policy. (4 credits) (NWCore option under Historical
HIS 202HP -
History of the United States from 1865
This course surveys United States history from the Civil War to the present.
It gives students a broad exposure to significant trends and competing
narratives in the second half of U.S. history through an integration of
lectures, discussions, readings and activities with primary and secondary
sources. We will examine the development of the American nation state,
shifting definitions of what constitutes an "American", movements promoting
rights and social justice along the lines of race, class, and gender, the
creation and growth of a consumer culture, patterns of urbanization,
suburbanization, and the role of print and electronic media in creating a
national mass culture. We will also consider how Christians in America
challenged and critiqued American life, culture, and policy. (4 credits)
(NWCore option under Historical Perspectives)
HIS 203HP -
Search for a Useful Past I: Antiquity and the Middle Ages
This course explores the intersection of religion, political organization, cultural
expression, and human community through an historical investigation of the
ancient Greek city-state, the Roman Empire and early Christianity, and
medieval society. We begin with the culture, politics, and history of the
ancient Greek polis. From there, we move to the culture, politics, and
history of the Roman Empire, attending to how Rome appropriated the ideas of
the Greeks and the development of Christianity as a deviant religious
subculture within the empire. The course concludes with medieval and early
modern Europe: a world of developing cities, political empires, and the
cultural dominance of the Christian church. (4 credits) (NWCore option under
HIS 204HP -
Search for a Useful Past II: Historical Narratives and the Modern World
This course runs from the medieval world to the present. Students will
trace a basic outline of European history from the emergence of early Europe
through the Middle Ages, out of which the modern West evolved, treating the
breakup of Christendom, the development of modern science, Europe's
colonization outside its borders, the Atlantic revolutions, and the
evolution of modern society through the 20th century. We will especially
concentrate on non-Western portraits of European colonization. Students will
learn to work with basic documents in European history as well as a few
significant arguments from historians. The student's primary work will be
document studies and essays using such documents to test explanations by
historians. In this way students should be able to express their
understanding of primary documents and relevant historian's arguments. (4
credits) (NWCore option under Historical Perspectives)
HIS 210 -
Introduction to Public History
(2 credits)(American history) This course is designed to introduce
students to the theory, methods, and practice of history outside the
classroom. Students will explore the ways historians research, preserve,
and present historical topics to public audiences through museums,
archives, interpreters, documentaries, and through electronic media.
Prerequisite: HIS150 or permission of instructor.
HIS 365 -
Seminar in American History
(4 credits)(American history) Building on the skills students
developed in the Colloquium in American history, the Seminar in American
history invites students to do the work of a historian. Seminars focus
more deeply on some period or issue or question, and students will write
a significant research paper related to the seminar topic that
demonstrates advanced familiarity with the historiography and advanced
skills at analyzing and using primary sources.
Note: This course may be taken more than once provided a different topic
Prerequisite: HIS206 or permission of instructor.
HIS 375 -
Seminar in European/World History
(4 credits)(European/world history) Building on the skills students
developed in the Colloquium in European / World history, the Seminar in
European/World history invites students to do the work of a historian.
Seminars focus more deeply on some period or issue or question, and
students will write a significant research paper related to the seminar
topic that demonstrates advanced familiarity with the historiography and
advanced skills at analyzing and using primary sources.
Prerequisite: HIS 207 or permission of instructor.
HIS 435SR -
Philosophy of History and Historiography
A study of problems relevant to history as a scientific and humanistic
discipline. Among the questions considered are the following: What sorts of
meaning have philosophers of history ascribed to the overall process of
history? What approaches have historians taken to questions of objectivity,
causation, and moral values in the study of history? How does philosophy of
history relate to the Christian faith? Prerequisite: HIS 120HP or a NWCore Belief and Reason (BR) course.
(4 credits)(European/world history)
Total credits required: 32
For the history teaching major, students must take 16 credits of American history and 16 credits of European/World history. Students majoring in history education must also complete the requirements of the secondary education program (see education department listing for requirements).