The guiding principle behind these learning goals is to create a clear path of student development in keeping with the goals and philosophies outlined in the History Department’s mission statement.
- Lower level courses (100 and 200s) seek to introduce students to the interpretative facets of history while providing them with a general level of knowledge about particular topics or national histories.
- Upper-level courses (300s) seek to deepen the awareness of contingency, both culturally and temporally, with greater emphasis on the contested nature of history’s meaning.
- The 500-level junior seminars are meant to prepare our majors for their Senior Projects by fostering more independent inquiry both in and outside the classroom. They also provide our many minors with a capstone experience that reinforces the distinctive practices and outlooks of historians.
Taken as a whole, we believe that these learning goals reinforce the complex relationship between past and present, promote greater awareness of difference, and develop the skills—research, writing, and analysis—that are essential parts of the historian’s craft.
- Acquire knowledge of particular historical contexts
- Analyze historical sources
- Understand how historians interpret the past
- Develop an historian’s skills, including reading, writing, speaking, and critical inquiry
- Be able to execute guided and independent research projects, up to and including the Senior Comprehensive Project in History
- Students are introduced to geographic, regional, or national histories that emphasize broad processes, themes, and developments
- Students have the opportunity to work with primary sources and critically assess competing historical arguments
- Students are introduced to history as an open-ended process of interpretation
- Students are introduced to history as a scholarly discipline or profession
- Students develop written communication skills in the discipline, including proper citation
- Students receive an introduction to a historical topic that nurtures an interest in history and prepares them for a more in-depth and comprehensive study of the past
- Students are introduced to different sources of the past (primary, secondary, literature, visual media, etc.)
- Students are introduced to historical debates (or history as an interpretative scholarly endeavor)
- Students engage in the development of a historical perspective (origins, circumstances, processes)
- Students develop oral and written communication skills
- Students engage the past around a particular theme or set of themes in a regional or temporal context
- Students become familiar with the historiography and are able to evaluate historians’ arguments and interpretations regarding the course theme(s)
- Students develop skills of assessing and utilizing both secondary and primary sources
- Students develop research skills and work on generating their own historical interpretations
- Students can write papers with critical analysis and historical inquiry, utilizing proper citation
500-Level Courses [course numbered 550-589]
- Students make an advanced exploration into a specific historical topic
- Students will read, discuss, and evaluate contrasting historical interpretations
- Students conduct research with primary and secondary sources, develop their own arguments, and write a research paper with proper citations according to the Chicago Manual of Style
- Students engage in the communication and exchange of ideas with peers at an advanced level and present the outcomes of their research
- Students in the major prepare for the writing of their senior project with well-defined themes, proper research methods, and appropriate sources; students completing a minor build upon the content and methodology of other courses for the minor to produce a research essay that serves as a culminating capstone experience.
The Senior Project is the capstone experience at Allegheny College. The Project and its oral defense provides students with an opportunity to integrate discipline-specific scholarship with the communication and research skills they have been developing since their First Year at the College.
The object of the Senior Project in the Department of History is to enable students to pursue independent historical research on a topic of their own choosing and to report their findings in a substantial paper. The goal of the Senior Project is for a student to explore independently an historical topic of their own choosing, understand the views expressed by historians about their topic, and craft their own interpretation of their chosen subject in a substantial paper. Students will have the counsel of a member of the department chosen by the student as the project director, but it is the student’s responsibility to take the initiative in seeking advice.
Student work is evaluated on:
- The quality of their research,
- The originality of their thesis,
- The strength of their argument,
- The nature of their sources, both primary and secondary,
- Their clarity of written expression, and
- Their clarity of oral expression.
Evaluation of the Senior Project is conducted by a board of examiners consisting of two members of the Department of History, or, if the project is undertaken in conjunction with another department, by one member of the Department of History and one member of the other department. Students are examined orally by this board on the general field of knowledge and period of time with which the Project is concerned, the specific information contained in the paper, and their methods of research.
History 600 Learning Outcomes
- Choose a Senior Project Topic
- Write an historiographical essay including major secondary sources about their chosen topic.
- Identify key primary sources critical to their Project.
- Compile an extensive bibliography, utilizing The Chicago Manual of Style, including primary and secondary sources for their project
- Complete a chapter outline of the Senior Project.
History 610 Learning Outcomes
- Conduct extensive research in primary sources on the topic of their Senior Project.
- Read and master the interpretations of the major secondary sources on their topic.
- Develop a clear and persuasive thesis for their Senior Project.
- Write an extensive paper on their topic which conforms to The Chicago Manual of Style in notes and bibliography and contains minimal stylistic and typographical errors.
- Articulate why they have chosen their topic in an oral examination.
- Answer questions beyond the immediate scope of their project, demonstrating contextual awareness, in their oral examination.