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History

Understanding the present by studying the past

Ask any question about the past, and you’re exploring history – the various economic, social, political, military and religious forces that have transformed the face of the world. Only by understanding the significance of past events can we understand the present and gain insight into the future.

Studying history at Elon will sharpen your analytical thinking and writing skills, and help you understand the many influences that have fueled historical change. Because of the breadth and depth of historical investigation, students who study history will be well-prepared for careers requiring interaction with others and the ability to write and think critically, such as education, law, business and medicine.

At Elon, you will receive excellent instruction and the opportunity to work with dedicated faculty scholars. You also will complete a major research and writing project as the capstone to your studies. When you graduate, you will be capable of analyzing complex historical issues and understanding how present events’ affect the future.

"The History and Geography Department is really something special at Elon. By completing independent research projects and working one-on-one with history professors in a mentoring relationship, I not only learned and acquired invaluable research, writing and presentation skills that propelled me through my undergraduate years, but also created a strong foundation for the skills needed to be successful in law school."

Stephanie Murr '09
Graduate Student at UNC School of Law
 

Working with faculty scholars

The faculty in the Department of History and Geography are committed to innovative teaching and are also internationally renowned scholars. You get the best of both worlds: professors who invest considerable time and effort in the classroom to help you succeed and scholars who have published widely and are nationally recognized in their fields. Our faculty include: 

Dr. Jim Bissett, Agrarian Socialism in America: Marx, Jefferson, and Jesus in the Oklahoma Countryside, 1904-1920

Dr. David Crowe, Oskar Schindler: The Untold Account of His Life, Wartime Activities, and the True Story Behind the List and The Holocaust: Roots, History, and Aftermath (received a 2008 CHOICE Award for Outstanding Academic Book from the American Library Association) 

Dr. Clyde Ellis, To Change Them Forever: Indian Education at the Rainy Mountain Boarding School, 1893-1920; The Jesus Road: Kiowas, Christianity Indian Hymns; and A Dancing People: Powwow Culture on the Southern Plains.

Dr. Mary Jo Festle, Playing Nice: Politics and Apologies in Women’s Sports

Dr. Charles Irons, The Origins of Proslavery Christianity: White and Black Evangelicals in Colonial and Antebellum Virginia.

Capstone experience

As a history major at Elon, you will have the opportunity to “do” history as well as study it. You will complete at least one senior seminar that will allow you to study a topic in depth and produce a comprehensive, original research paper as the capstone to your education. The seminars are offered every semester and are typically linked to a professor’s research interest. Recent seminar topics include the Victorian era, the 19th-century American South, gender/sexuality in American history and a study of Nazi Germany.

To prepare for the seminar, you will take a research methods course, in which you will learn how to conduct historical research and write a major research paper. In addition, you will have the opportunity to hear faculty members discuss their current scholarly research.

Students also participate in ongoing research projects in the department’s oral history program, which involves collecting oral interviews that will become resources for future generations of scholars.

Research opportunities

History majors are encouraged to present their senior seminar project and other research findings at Elon’s annual Spring Undergraduate Research Forum (SURF). All SURF projects in history are the result of collaboration between students and faculty members. Generally, student research is either related to a professor’s area of scholarship or a paper that the student has written for a class. Regardless, faculty mentors give each student direction and advice during their research. Several projects result in co-authored articles or presentations vital to a developing scholar’s resume.

In addition, several students mentored by faculty in the Departments of History and Geography have received Lumen Prizes, Elon’s premier scholarships for academic achievement.

Challenging Fellows programs

History students may be eligible for the Elon College Fellows and Honors Fellows programs. Both programs offer offers special courses, research opportunities, scholarships and study abroad grants. Visit the Elon Fellows programs Website for more information.

International study

At Elon, you can deepen your knowledge of the world and of yourself by participating in the university’s top-ranked study abroad program. History majors, in particular, benefit from exploring important historical sites and events around the world. 

History faculty members regularly lead study abroad courses during Elon’s winter term. There are several courses of particular interest to history majors, including the London program, where students choose among arts and sciences courses; World War II on the Ground, through which students travel to England, France, Germany, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands exploring how World War II influenced those societies; and Studies in Ghana, where students explore the history, literature and culture of the West African country. History majors have also spent semesters studying in Scotland and Australia. 

Internships and graduate study

History majors gain valuable professional experience and insights into their studies by participating in internships. Elon students have completed internships at law firms and with historic preservation organizations. Some recent internship sites include:

  • The Washington Center, Washington, D.C.
  • Alamance Battleground, Alamance County, N.C.
  • National Archives, Washington, D.C.
  • The Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C.
  • Fetternear Castle Archeological Dig, Scotland
  • Reynolda House Museum, Winston-Salem, N.C.

Graduate studies are required for anyone who plans to teach history at the college level. Between 10 and 20 percent of recent Elon graduates who majored in history have pursued graduate studies. History majors also have entered law and business graduate schools and attended programs in library science, historic preservation and museum-related work.

The majority of Elon history majors go directly into a diverse range of careers, including education, historic preservation, business and law. In addition to earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, students can structure their studies to obtain teacher licensure.

 

Visit the Department of History and Geography Website.

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