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Skidmore College


"An unexamined life is not worth living." - Socrates

History is a way by which men and women come to understand who they are as human beings. It is the mission of the History Department to impart to students a solid knowledge of the past and to develop in them the ways of thinking they will need to make sense of broad patterns of change in different civilizations and cultures.

The History Department prepares students to think critically about the world they live in and their place in it. We want them to engage with global events and have some context for understanding the importance of the past to their understanding of the present. We want them to make decisions in their careers and lives with an understanding of the moral and political issues that are at stake in those decisions. We believe that this is not merely a function of exercising a skill called "critical thinking," but that it comes from, and actually requires, a specific knowledge of the past that has led to the events they are reading about and the moral and political quandaries they face. Thus the history department considers its main duty to be to give students the "historical literacy" they need in order to think critically about the world in which they live. 

The Skidmore History Department expects its students to acquire a broad knowledge of the past and to be able to work in depth in areas and at topics of an individual's particular interest. Students should develop the capacity to identify major historical problems, interpret varying bodies of knowledge, deal critically with a range of historical sources, and present their ideas in a clear, vigorous, and graceful form.

Courses offered by the department explore the pasts of the United States, England, Europe, Asia, and Latin America, and range from the ancient world to the present. History students are encouraged to develop areas of interest in related disciplines and programs such as international relations, American and Asian studies, government, and philosophy as well as to study abroad.