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Grand Valley State University    
2011-2012 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog 
  Aug 20, 2018
2011-2012 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

History - Program Description

For additional information about opportunities your college offers, please refer to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences  section in this catalog.

Chair: Morison. Professors: Cole, Goode, Kelleher, O’Neill, Shapiro-Shapin, Smither, G. Stark, Tripp; Associate Professors: Benjamin, Buckridge, Cooley, Coolidge, Crouthamel, Daley,  Galbraith, Montagna, Morison, Murphy, Shan, Stabler, D. Stark, Underwood, Wangdi; Assistant Professors: Andrews, Chapman, Eaton, Gottlieb, Lingwood, Moore, Rosales.


The study of the past has captivated generations of people around the globe. As historical beings, we wonder about the ways our ancestors lived, the origins of our cultural and political practices, the causes of important events (both local and world), and the reasons for technological and economic disparities between peoples in our modern world. History explores the past in order to seek answers to such questions and to better understand our world.

As one of the liberal arts, history provides the opportunity to explore the past through a careful consideration of the evidence our forebears have left behind. Historians make critical contributions to society in diverse areas, such as teaching, the law, business, foreign and civil service, archival work, museum studies, professional writing and editing, and library science, just to name a few. In sum, an historian possesses the primary training for any job that requires analytical writing and reading skills and an ability to communicate ideas knowledgeably and clearly.

Degrees offered: Master of Education, Advanced Content Specialization with a Concentration in History; Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science in History, major and minor for secondary teaching certification, minor in History, minor in History of Science.

Mission Statement

The Department of History advances public knowledge and understanding of the past as it informs the present and future. We offer a multidisciplinary approach that combines our global cultural heritage with long-neglected voices, uses a range of tools and perspectives, and provides the knowledge and skills necessary for informed decision making.


We provide a student-centered program that is committed to excellent teaching, scholarship, and service. Through our commitment to the liberal arts tradition, we help students develop skills of inquiry, reflection, critical analysis, dialogue, and expression. We are dedicated to inspiring all our students - be they our History and Group Social Studies majors or students we encounter in our general education courses - to pursue excellence in their chosen professions and serve the broader local, regional, national, and international communities in which they live.

As a community of scholars, we help to enlarge the state of knowledge in our field through our active engagement in intellectual and creative pursuits. We recognize that active scholarship enriches our teaching and enables us to serve students, the university and the broader community. We bring the historian’s perspective to courses in the University Honors College and other interdisciplinary programs; we participate actively in preparing teachers of History and Social Studies as well as preparing our majors for further study and careers in a variety of fields. We promote faculty and student participation in national and international inquiry and discourse. We are dedicated to serving the broader West Michigan community through our engagement in local and regional history forums.

Career Opportunities

Advanced training in research, writing, critical reading, and interpretation makes history graduates attractive to a great number of employers who value these abilities. History majors enjoy a high rate of employment in a wide variety of careers, including politics, law, business, education, journalism, foreign and civil service, editing, and private research.

Graduate School Opportunities

Students planning to pursue graduate studies in History should consult early with their advisors. History majors often go into graduate work in fields as diverse as Higher Education/Student Affairs, History, International Relations, Law, Library and Information Science, Museum Studies, Philosophy, Politics, Psychology, Public History, Public Administration, and Social Work. Success in such diverse fields means that there is no one-size-fits-all program, so it is critical that students seek advice about language and other skills requirements they need  for success. To this end, the History Department has faculty affiliated with a large and diverse number of programs and colleges at Grand Valley.

Participating Programs

The History Department participates in the following programs:

  • Archaeology
  • African/African American Studies
  • College of Education
  • East Asian Studies
  • Group Social Studies
  • Honors College
  • Latin American Studies
  • Liberal Studies
  • Middle East Studies
  • Russian Studies
  • Women and Gender Studies

Student Organizations (

Theta Club

The Theta Club aims to provide activities and resources for undergraduate students interested in history. All undergraduates, regardless of major, are invited to join Theta Club and our activities are designed to appeal to a wide variety of student interests relating to history. The club promotes an environment in which history is fun, exciting, and interesting to both majors and non-majors. It also provides undergraduates with information on graduate school and careers related to history. Contact Professor Alice Chapman, the club advisor, for more information.

Honors Organization

Phi Alpha Theta
The local chapter of this international History honor society promotes the study of History by honoring students who have maintained high academic standards throughout their college careers. Members participate in a variety of intellectual and social activities throughout the academic year. Students who have completed at least four history classes at Grand Valley State University with a minimum GPA of 3.25 in those history classes, and an overall GPA of at least 3.25 are encouraged to apply. Contact Professor Alice Chapman, chapter advisor, for more information.

Scholarship Opportunities

The Breen Prize and Niemeyer Scholarship(s)
The Breen Prize for the best essay on a historical topic is awarded by the History Department each year. Essays are due in February. The Glenn A. and Betty J. Niemeyer Scholarship essays are also due in February. Details are available in the History Department office, D 1-160 MAK, and on our website.

Awards will be announced in March. Details are available in the History Department office, D 1-160 MAK, and on our website.

The following programs are available:

Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in History 

Master of Education, Advanced Content Specialization in History 

History Minor