International History

In recent centuries, processes of historical change have become increasingly global.  The major in International History (IHIS) trains students to analyze historical changes that transcend national boundaries by exploring a particular theme or question in the context of a self-designed major concentration.

The International History major goes beyond study of the formal relations between states—the traditional subject matter of diplomatic history—to address themes in social, cultural, and intellectual history. Reflecting the interdisciplinarity of historical scholarship, students draw upon ideas and data from subjects as varied as anthropology, philosophy, sociology, political science, religious studies, and literature.

Through this interdisciplinarity, the major exposes students to a range of theoretical tools and methodological approaches to historical analysis, placing special emphasis on the development of critical thinking, argumentation, and writing skills.

Goals of the Major

The International History major prepares students to understand how the world developed into its current state and the forces that govern its ongoing evolution.  It is designed to introduce them to the breadth and depth of the human experience by a comparative study of past and contemporary societies and cultures, and to develop their ability to conduct research, analyze and assess evidence, and articulate sound conclusions both orally and in writing.

Our students thus acquire knowledge and skills that help them develop as informed, engaged, and thoughtful citizens and scholars. The study of international history enables our students to become more involved with the complex world in which they live, and to maintain throughout their lives a spirit of inquiry and curiosity that not only makes them more active in their communities, but also provides them with personal enrichment and enjoyment.

Objectives of the Major

The study of history plays a distinctive and central role in a strong liberal arts curriculum.  Knowledge of history is essential to understanding the emergence of the modern world and for grappling with continuing global interactions and conflicts.  International History majors enjoy considerable freedom to focus their work on their own areas of interest and to design programs that complement the rest of their academic work.

The International History major enables students to:

  • develop the ability to explain and contextualize change over time on the basis of evidence;
  • distinguish between types and genres of sources and between evidence-based conclusions and unfounded statements;
  • use sources to formulate questions and construct original arguments, and develop their ability to support their conclusions orally and in writing with evidence and appropriate documentation;
  • identify, evaluate, and compare historians’ different interpretations of the past, thus understanding the discipline of history as an ongoing conversation between sources, scholars, and students; and
  • identify and trace major themes, issues, and developments in the history of at least two world regions, and gain the ability to formulate comparative questions and arguments about different societies and cultures.

Requirements for the Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service in International History

Courses in the SFS Core requirement serve as foundational requisites of this major.

Students majoring in International History must complete the following requirements:

  • HIST-4305 Global Perspective on International History
  • Thematic concentration: five courses chosen in consultation with the IHIS dean centering on a student’s thematic or regional area of study (at least one and up to two courses must come from outside the HIST department)
  • Electives: two HIST courses
  • At least three of the HIST courses must be numbered above 3000

Writing in the Major

As they move through the SFS Core Curriculum and meet the requirements towards their major, IHIS students repeatedly encounter and practice various forms of historical writing.  All IHIS majors are required to take Global Perspectives on International History (HIST-4305) which exposes students to various methodologies in studying international history and gives students the opportunity to hone their writing as scholars and historians.  In addition, students continue to practice writing through the upper-level history seminars, which allow students to continually develop and revise their writing skills throughout their academic careers.

Honors in International History

To graduate with honors in International History, a student must:

  • earn a cumulative grade point average of 3.50 and a grade point average in the major of 3.67 by the date of graduation.
  • successfully complete the two-semester honors seminar offered by the Department of History (by invitation only); and
  • submit a senior thesis on an approved topic that is judged to be of honors quality by a committee of faculty members appointed for this purpose.

Additional information on the major and required coursework may be found on the BSFS website.

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