Department of History, Philosophy and Religious Studies

History is the study of the past. Yet the point of history is not merely to establish what happened or to memorize a long list of dates and names. Rather, historians study the past to understand how societies function. For example, looking at the history of agriculture, we can analyze the relationship between the natural environment, technology, and politics. Similarly, examining interethnic relations in the past, we can learn why people identify with particular ethnic groups or explore how multilingual societies work. More broadly, studying history helps you develop key skills that you can apply to other subjects and in your future careers. In history classes, you will learn to critically assess sophisticated scholarly arguments and to advance your own views in a clear and convincing manner. You will also learn how to search for information to draw your own conclusions about key social, cultural, and political issues. History is closely linked to other humanities and social sciences. You will discover yourself that what you learn in anthropology, economics, or even in your natural science electives may shed light on a specific aspect of the past.

Philosophy is the study of fundamental questions arising in everyday life. In Philosophy classes we ask questions about profound subjects such as: What is the nature of reality?  What is the good, and what does it mean to be ethical?  What is the nature of the mind, and of knowledge?  What does it mean to be scientific?  What does it mean for individuals and states to behave justly?  The goal of philosophy is not to master facts but to ask questions, analyze arguments, think clearly, and write persuasively about important issues.

Religious Studies is the study of the role of religion in human societies and history.  Religion is a major force in human experience, both in the past and the present.  Using approaches from the humanities and social sciences, students learn how to talk about religion in a knowledgeable, rigorously critical, and responsible way. By approaching religious traditions comparatively and in their own terms, we seek to better understand ourselves and the world around us.

Click here to download Course Requirements for Majors and Minors in History, Philosophy and Religious Studies.

You can view the list of courses offered by our Department here