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Departmental Mission Statement

Requirements for Major

Requirements for History/Social Science Major (Secondary Education)

Requirements for Minor

Requirements for the M.A.T. with Secondary Ed concentration in History/Social Science

Course Descriptions


Chair Professor R. Tracy McKenzie

Professor Edith Blumhofer

Associate Professors Melissa Franklin-Harkrider, Kathryn Long, Matthew Lundin

Assistant Professors Karen J. Johnson, Hanmee Kim, Sarah Miglio


The History Department introduces students to the joys and challenges of studying the past in such a way that they may better understand themselves, their own cultures, and the broader world. In line with the purposes of Wheaton College and informed by the truths and values of the Christian faith, the department is committed to the study of history as a foundational liberal arts discipline, worthwhile for its own sake and as a means of preparing students for a wide range of vocational pursuits. Teaching, research, and other scholarly activities in the department focus on the understanding and interpretation of historical eras and persons, not mere facts and details. The department is convinced that proper appreciation of the past in its political, social, and religious contexts significantly contributes to an individual’s understanding of contemporary events and his or her own faith.

The History major is useful for a wide variety of careers, including law, business, journalism, Christian ministries, government service, and teaching. It also prepares students for graduate study in history, as well as in museum, library, and archival studies. In addition to regular course offerings, off-campus programs and internships are available. The department works to place interested students in study and travel abroad programs.

Department Honors are granted upon the successful completion of a senior thesis through enrollment in HIST 498 and 499.

Requirements for a History major are 36 hours in History, including a core research sequence. That sequence includes three components: (1) HIST 295 Introduction to Historical Inquiry; (2) a Junior Research Paper, completed as a part of the regular class assignments of 300- or 400-level history classes; and (3) HIST 494 Christianity and Historical Study, which is the department’s capstone seminar. Normally, HIST 295 is completed during the freshman or sophomore year; the Junior Research Paper is submitted for departmental review during the junior year; and HIST 494 during the senior year. Students must complete HIST 295 before the semester in which they write their Junior Research Paper. Guidelines for the Junior Research Paper are available in the History Department office or in the Handbook on the department web site www.wheaton.edu/History. Additional requirements are four upper division hours from each of the following categories: American, European, non-west (Asia, Africa, Latin America), and the history of Christianity. No more than eight hours of cross listed courses may apply to the major. Eight hours of history-related courses from other departments may be substituted for four hours in History with the approval of the History Department Chair. History majors are not required to take a history general education course; they satisfy the history general education requirement by completing the upper-division European and non-western courses required for the major.

Requirements for the History/Social Science major (usually a teacher education concentration) are 42 hours, including 28 hours in History; eight hours in Political Science (PSCI 135 plus 4 hours); four additional hours in the Social Sciences other than Political Science; and two hours Methods of Teaching History/Social Science (HIST 324). The 28 hours in History include the core research sequence for the major. That sequence has three components: (1) HIST 295 Introduction to Historical Inquiry; (2) a Junior Research Paper completed as a part of the regular class assignments of 300- or 400-level history classes (or HIST 292 with approval); and (3) HIST 494 Christianity and Historical Study, which is the department’s capstone seminar. HIST 295 is normally completed during the freshman or sophomore year; the Junior research paper during the junior year; and HIST 494 during the senior year. Guidelines for the Junior Research Paper are available in the History Department office or in the Handbook on the department web site www.wheaton.edu/History. The 28 required hours in History also include ten hours in U.S. history (including HIST 351, 352); twelve hours in European and World History (including HIST 111 World History, Ancient to Modern; plus four hours European history and four hours non-western history from Asia, Africa, or Latin America); and two hours of Geography (GEOG 211). History/Social Science majors must complete a noncredit, self-study unit of ancient history and of Illinois History & Government (pass/fail). History majors are not required to take a history general education course; they satisfy the history general education requirement by completing the upper-division European and non-western courses required for the major. In addition, History/Social Science majors seeking teacher licensure must meet requirements listed under the Education Department. Students who have declared the major and later choose not to pursue teacher licensure may continue in the major with the approval of the History Department chair. In such cases, students will be expected to take an additional 4 hours in the Social Sciences (200-level or higher, not PSCI).

For non-History majors, the general education requirement in history (under the "Studies in Society" cluster) is met by HIST 101, 105, 111 or 115. Transfer or AP credit in U.S. history and/or European history do not satisfy the general education requirement.

Requirements for a minor in History are 20 hours, including a History general education course and HIST 295, as well as one upper-division course (300-level or above) in two of the following areas: world; U.S.; or European history. Courses cross-listed in History from other departments cannot be applied to the History minor.

For information on the Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.), please consult the Education Department portion of this catalog.

Refer to the Graduate Programs section of this catalog for courses in the History of Christianity which apply to a Master of Arts degree in Biblical and Theological Studies.

History Courses (HIST)

HIST 101. Exploring the Past. An introduction to the discipline of history for non-majors that equips students for life-long learning by helping them to understand why Christians value study of the past and by giving them the tools to investigate it. Through in-depth exploration of a critical period, concept, source, or event in the past—analyzed within an explicitly comparative or cross-cultural framework—the course demonstrates history’s ability to explain human interaction in an increasingly complex world and to promote thoughtful study of cultural and geographical difference. Students will learn to appreciate historical knowledge, engage in historical reasoning, develop historical consciousness, and practice historical reflection.

HIST 105. World History. A survey of world history in Christian perspective from c. 1500 to the present. This course provides the chronological, geographical, and cultural breadth that serves as a contextualizing vehicle for the liberal arts. Attention given to moral issues of history. Meets general education requirement. Diversity designation.

HIST 111. World History, Ancient to Modern. Single semester survey of world history from the ancient period to the present. Examines the political, religious, and social developments that forged the modern world. Meets general education requirements for all majors. Specifically addresses licensure requirements for secondary education. Required for History/Social Science majors. Recommended for elementary education majors. Diversity designation.

HIST 115. World History to 1600. A study of the ancient Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and European roots of modern Western civilization through the Renaissance/Reformation era. Some attention given to contemporaneous developments in Asia. Emphasis is directed towards the identification of the intellectual foundations of the Western traditions in a comparative perspective. Meets general education requirement.

HIST 131. Topics in World History. Through a biographical approach, investigates selected themes in world history in light of liberal arts and Christian thought and values. Not open to students who have completed HIST 105, 111, or 115. Applies to general education requirement only as recommended by History Chair. See General Education requirements, Studies in Society. Diversity designation. (2)

HIST 292. Latin American History. A survey of the history and cultural development of Central, South, and Caribbean America with emphasis on the era since 1500. Includes analysis of the impact of the European/indigenous encounter, of U.S./Latin American relations, and of the challenges of modernization. Approved option to satisfy world history requirement for majors in History or History/Social Science. Junior Research Paper may be written in this course, with instructor approval. Diversity designation.

HIST 295. Introduction to Historical Inquiry. Introduction to principles and techniques of historical scholarship. Attention given to historical thinking, literacy, research, and communication skills. Useful for non-majors. Required of majors and minors. (2)

HIST 305. Introduction to the History of Christianity. A summary introduction to the history of Christianity designed to provide a rapid, but comprehensive overview to assist students who seek a basic understanding of the history of Christianity as background for other fields of study. Counts toward the history of Christianity requirement for the major. Not open to students who have completed BITH 577, or HIST 477x in previous years. (2)

HIST 311x, 312x. History of Philosophy. See PHIL 311, 312.

HIST 324. Methods of Teaching History/Social Science. An introduction to methods of teaching middle and high school history/social science students, including units on classroom management, lesson planning, assessment, individual differences, learning resources, educational technology, and teaching strategies appropriate to history/social science classrooms. Prerequisites: EDUC 125, 125L, 225, 225L and admission to WheTEP. (2)

HIST 331. Cultures and National Identity in African History. Focuses on the development of select African societies from their early institutional and cultural traditions to the present with emphasis on the themes of the impact of Islam, European colonial influences, national independence movements, and contemporary African society. Diversity designation.

HIST 334. Society and Politics in East Asian History. Cultural development and distinctives of China, Korea, and Japan, from their traditional roots through their classical periods to the modern period. Contemporary East Asian society and affairs are covered and various themes will be emphasized each semester. Diversity designation.

HIST 341. Ancient History: The Rise and Fall of Empires. Examines the political, economic, social, and cultural development of the Near East and Mediterranean from the first civilizations in the third millennium B.C. to the collapse of the Roman Empire in the fifth century A.D. The course covers the First Age of Empires in the Ancient Near East as well as the Greek and Roman worlds.

HIST 342x. History of the Ancient Near East. See ARCH 365.

HIST 345. Medieval Europe to 1300. Analyzes the political, social, economic, and religious foundations of Europe from the Early to the High Middle Ages. Topics include: the collapse of the Roman Empire, Barbarian invasions, rise of Islam, Byzantine Empire, kingship and authority, and the development of Christianity.

HIST 346. Renaissance Europe (1300-1600). Examines the political, social, and religious developments that created modern Europe. Topics include the emergence of international power politics, the rise of humanism, Renaissance art, and cross-cultural encounters between Europeans and peoples of Africa, Asia, and the Americas.

HIST 347. Men, Women, and Society in Early Modern Europe. Examines the cultural, political, social, and religious developments that shaped men’s and women’s lives from 1300 to 1650. Topics include: family life, courtship and marriage, the emergence of the Renaissance state and its intervention in family life, and the impact of religious change on men and women. Particular attention is given to how this period shaped modern theological and cultural assumptions about men, women, and family structure.

HIST 348. Revolutionary Europe (1789-1870). Focuses on enlightened absolutism, the revolutions of 1789 and 1848, the social consequences of industrialization, and mid-nineteenth century foreign relations. Emphasis on France and Germany.

HIST 349. Origins of Contemporary Europe (1870-1950). Analysis of socioeconomic, political, and cultural foundations of twentieth-century Europe, and the causes and impact of both world wars.

HIST 351. American History to 1865. The political, social, and cultural development of the American nation from the colonial period to the Civil War with special emphasis on research and primary documents.

HIST 352. American History from 1865. The political, social, and cultural development of the American nation from the Civil War to the present with special emphasis on research and primary documents.

HIST 355. History of Women in the United States. Analysis of the social, cultural, and political aspects of women's history from the colonial period to the present, with particular emphasis on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and on women's religious experiences and contributions. Diversity designation.

HIST 361. The Global Cold War. An analysis of the dramatic political and social changes emerging in the Cold War period which have shaped the whole world since 1945. The focus is on such issues as the rise of the nuclear age, postwar human rights, the arms race and détente, space race, Middle East crises, technological impacts, decolonization and the emergence of the developing world, and the fall of European communism. Also included is the role of prominent Christians and the Church during the post-World War II era. Satisfies the world history requirement for the history major. Diversity designation.

HIST 362. Topics in Traditional Asian History. Course material centers on the cultural development of traditional society in the locations visited each year during the May-in-Asia program. Course will vary each year based on sites visited. Diversity designation. Su (2 or 4)

HIST 363. Topics in Continuity and Change in Modern Asia. An analysis of continuity and change in Asian society in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries specifically related to the locations visited each year during the May-in-Asia program. Course will vary each year based on sites visited. Diversity designation. Su (2 or 4)

HIST 364. East Africa and the Indian Ocean Region. This course analyzes the development and interaction of the many cultures which compose the Indian Ocean region. The fascinating site for our study is the multi-cultural East African island of Zanzibar which has been instrumental over many centuries in the history of the region and where there is a combination of African, Arab, Persian, Indian, Chinese, and European cultures. This course will study such themes as the origins of Swahili civilization, the Indian Ocean trading system, impact of Arab and Islamic civilization, European colonialism, the slave and ivory trade, African independence movements, Christian influences, and political and economic conditions in contemporary Africa by a mixture of course lectures, outside lectures, cultural and historical tours as well as readings from both primary and secondary sources. Offered summers. Diversity designation. (4)

HIST 365. Modern Middle East. Examines modern Middle Eastern history from the final decades of the Ottoman Empire to the formation of modern Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Palestine, and Israel with a scholarly historical and theological introduction to the people, religions, cultures, and political events of Modern Middle East. Topics include the cultural impact of imperialism and western intervention in the Middle East, contemporary political and economic problems in the region, the growth of Islamic reform movements and Arab nationalism, the role of religious fundamentalism (Christian, Islamic, and Jewish) in the region's politics, and the history leading up to the Arab Spring." Diversity designation.

HIST 374. Nazi Germany. Analyzes the origins and nature of the Nazi ideology and party, as well as the cultural, social and political patterns of the Third Reich of the 1930s. Particular emphasis is given to the Nazi murders during World War II, interpretive issues, and the visual culture of the whole Nazi era.

HIST 377. British History to 1688. Analyzes the history of England from the Anglo-Saxon Settlement to the Glorious Revolution. Topics include the development of a unified monarchy, the Norman Conquest, the emergence of representative government, the Reformation, and the English Civil War. Alternate years.

HIST 378. History of Britain Since 1832. An analysis of the rise of industrial, urban class society, an examination of higher and popular culture, emphasis on the Victorian era and the early twentieth century. Alternate years.

HIST 382x. U.S. Foreign Policy. See IR 378.

HIST 391. Topics in History. Selected areas of historical study as announced. (2 or 4)

HIST 448x. American Economic History. See B EC 448.

HIST 451. Topics in American History. Advanced courses in the history of the United States as announced, including ethnic, intellectual, and constitutional history. (2 or 4)

HIST 455. American Urban History. Examines how urbanization has shaped and directed much of America's social, cultural, political, and economic development from colonial times to the present. Lecture, discussion, readings from primary sources.

HIST 461. Origins and Consequences of the Pacific War. Investigates the origins of the Pacific War using both translated primary documents and secondary scholarly literature. Special attention is paid to the changing international environment and especially the role of the United States, alongside Japanese domestic social, economic, political, military, and intellectual developments. Recommended to upper-level students interested in understanding Japan, twentieth-century East Asian relations, international relations, war, ideology and conflict. Satisfies the world history requirement for the major. Diversity designation.

HIST 463. Enlightenment Modernity and Its Discontents. Reviews the social, political, economic, and intellectual aspects of the European Enlightenment, explores the process of diffusion of these influences, and then considers the various responses to this phenomena beginning in Europe but extending to various parts of the world. Responses covered may include Muslim, Jewish, Christian, conservative, Marxist, Confucian, postcolonial, and postmodern. Diversity designation.

HIST 483. History of Christianity in North America. An overview of events, ideas, people, and groups that have helped to shape Christianity in North America from the colonial era to the present (with primary emphasis on Christianity in the U.S.). Meets the history of Christianity requirement for the major.

HIST 489x. Colloquium in the History of American Christianity. See BITH 682. (2 or 4)

HIST 491. Research Seminar. Advanced research in history on varied topics. The course may be taken for credit a second time with a different instructor or topic. Especially designed for students considering graduate school. (2-4)

HIST 494. Christianity and Historical Study. This senior capstone course focuses on the study of Christianity and history, with emphasis on the history of history-writing, the implications of Christianity for the meaning and practice of history, and the relationship of philosophies of history to the Christian faith. For seniors, or for juniors who have completed other major requirements. (2)

HIST 495. Independent Study. Individualized program of reading, research, writing, and oral examination, which allows for extensive study in a specific area of interest. Not to be used as a substitute for courses or seminars already covered in the curriculum. Prerequisites: junior or senior standing and approval of department faculty and chair. Intended for majors only (1-4). See the online Handbook at the department web page for further information.

HIST 496. Internship. Prerequisites: junior or senior standing, minimum of 16 credits in History major completed, and approval of department chair. Graded pass/fail. See the online Handbook at the department web page for further information.

HIST 498. Honors Tutorial. Reading and research in selected areas. Prerequisites: Admission to Department Honors program, senior standing. See the online Handbook at the department web page for further information.

HIST 499. Honors Thesis. Preparation of senior honors thesis. Not applicable to major requirements. Prerequisite: HIST 498.

Geography Course (GEOG)

This course is offered primarily to meet the needs of History/Social Science majors but is open to all students desiring to take it.

GEOG 211. General Geography. This course will examine the interrelationships between people and their geographic environments; physical, social, economic, political, demographic, and cultural. Students will be expected to learn basic place names and to understand geographic relationships, concepts, and terms. Required of all students seeking teacher licensure in the social sciences. Does not count as a history course for students pursuing the regular history major. (2)


Revision Date: June 1, 2015



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