What to do with a History Degree: Watch the video of our 2016 History Career Panel
Why study History? It’s not about memorizing dates and names. It’s about asking, “what’s the story so far?” and the story is the development of humanity and society. History is about getting the big picture of how and why things change. Historians study everything that humans do, from politics to sexuality to religion to work to war to social movements to science and beyond. Studying history gives you the ability to make sense of a changing world; it gives you perspective and understanding. That’s why people with degrees in history move into careers such as politics, journalism, social justice, education, business, and others. It’s not because they have memorized dates. It’s because they learn how to think deeply and creatively about the world. They learn how to understand complex situations and make sense of them. They learn how to dig to get to the truths beyond the headlines and the news bites and the simple answers. They learn how to understand the past, to make sense of the present, and to shape the future.
The Undergraduate Program in History at Simon Fraser
The Department of History provides courses that introduce students to major world regions and cultures, to historical periods, and to social, political, cultural and economic themes. Our offerings reflect our local context while also providing a global perspective. They build on the knowledge that our students bring to their classes and enrich their understanding of history. In our program and in our teaching we are sensitive to the background of our student population.
Regional studies are the foundational blocks of our undergraduate program and so we have divided our courses into three regional groups: Europe, the Americas, and Africa-Middle East-Asia. We encourage students to develop a comparative approach to history through breadth requirements and thematic and methodological courses. Because we also appreciate the varying interests, expectations, and requirements that our students have, our department allows them a great deal of freedom in choosing courses and putting together individualized programs.
We believe that geographical, cultural, and temporal specializations are essential to the study of history, and, therefore, our program makes it possible for students to pursue concentrations in African, American, Asian, British, Canadian, Latin American, Middle Eastern, and pre-modern and modern European history. We also encourage students to think across regions, periods, and historical approaches. Discussion and oral presentations in small groups are essential parts of our teaching mandate and these are actively pursued in the tutorials of our lecture courses and in our senior seminars. We are also committed to developing student writing and research skills, which means maximizing where possible student access to their instructors.