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History | WSU Department of History

The Department of History stands with President Kirk Schulz and the WSU community in supporting Black Lives Matter!

 

Note from President Kirk Schulz:

Racism looms over our nation’s soul.

Breonna Taylor. Ahmaud Arbery. George Floyd. Three on a seemingly endless list of African American fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, loved ones, and family members, all of whom were killed because they were black.

Each a recent and stark reminder and memorial of the ugliness of historic, systemic inequality.

Each a victim of our country’s severe racial and class disparities.

The COVID‑19 pandemic has laid bare the truth about the unequal access to health care that people of color—specifically African Americans—face. This fact only compounds the current outrage.

We are still so far from achieving the aspirations of racial and social justice.

How do we acknowledge the atrocity and pain of past and recent tragedies? How, especially, do we acknowledge and respond to the ongoing racism suffered by African American students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members when they aren’t treated with the humanity and dignity they deserve?

Given the recent killings and the protests and destruction of the past few days, the words of Martin Luther King Jr. offer a truth worth repeating. In a 1967 speech in which Dr. King referenced the nationwide riots of that summer, he said:

. . . .riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality, and humanity. And so, in a real sense our nation’s summers of riots are caused by our nation’s winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again.
Black lives matter. Racial violence impacts our WSU family. As an intellectual community committed to learning and seeking truth, we must reflect on our own failures—individually and collectively.

In that spirit, we soon will release a report from an investigation into WSU police arrest rates that illustrates we have much work to do. We, like Bill Gardner, chief of university police, are committed to confronting this issue and will, in dialogue with the WSU community, work toward a just solution.

Change starts with each of us, and we must hold ourselves and each other accountable.

We must consider our own roles in maintaining systemic racism and accepting racial violence, even when it makes us uncomfortable. When our actions are informed by the truth of others, we can move forward, together, courageously and realize the aspirations of racial and social justice. Only then can we begin to create an authentic space from which to proceed.

Kirk Schulz
President


 

History has long been at the center of a liberal arts education and it remains so today.  As both a humanities discipline and a social science, History possesses elements of literary studies, anthropology, economics, and sociology and teaches a variety of skills that are relevant across the entire range of majors offered by the College of Arts and Sciences. At WSU, the Department of History’s Roots of Contemporary Issues Program is at the heart of the university’s general education requirements.

Learn about our distinctive programs

Alongside the History major, the MA, and the PhD, the Department collaborates with a range of graduate and undergraduate programs, including teacher education, pre-law, and interdisciplinary majors in Asian Studies, Women’s History, Political Science, and Cultural Studies. We also offer a of number graduate and undergraduate scholarships and opportunity for students to conduct faculty-mentored research.


“History is about challenge.  At WSU, professors and peers challenged me to think outside the box, and create original thoughts and theories often times going against perceived norms.  History at WSU challenges students to go beyond, be diligent, and persevere academically.  Writing, reading, and thinking skills are developed and molded to form an ever changing and perfecting student experience.  I credit my study of history with all my success at WSU and with all the success I hope to have in the future.”

Kevin Schilling
B.A. History  (2017) and Top Ten Senior Awardee

 

“As the ASWSU student body president, I regularly rely on the skills and competencies I gained in history courses at Washington State University.  Critical thinking is consistently reinforced in the WSU Department of History, and that helps me solve complex problems involving student fee increases, curriculum changes, and student safety needs.  Additionally, the Department of History places an emphasis on crafting original arguments, and backing them up with credible, solid sources.  My position as the top advocate for students requires me to engage in discussions on a daily basis with university staff, faculty, and administrators, as we try to come up with ways to make the WSU student experience the best it can be.  With a historical mindset, I am confident in my ability to lead the students of Washington State University into the future.”

Jordan Frost
President
Associated Students of Washington State University 2017-2018

Distinctive Programs

Roots of Contemporary Issues

Roots of Contemporary Issues provides students with the tools to assess and address contemporary issues in a mature, reasoned way, using evidence, critical thinking, and clear written and oral communication skills. Learn more about RCI

American West & Pacific Northwest

Washington State University’s Department of History has long been recognized for its premiere graduate program in the American West—a region rich in cultural, social, and environmental diversity.

Learn more about the American West & Pacific Northwest program

Public History Field School

Emphasizing both academic and practical instruction to develop basic skills in public history subfields, the Public History Field School is designated as History 529: Interpreting History through Material Culture.

Learn more about Public History Field School

Global Leadership Certificate

The Global Leadership Certificate can be integrated with any major and allows students to gain leaderships skills, cross-cultural understanding, and global knowledge. Currently, there are 12 HISTORY courses included on the “coursework” list that count towards the completion of a GLC!

Learn more about getting a Global Leadership Certificate.  

The Hanford History Project

Through the Hanford History Project, WSU leads a coalition of community partners in preserving—and enabling research on—the history of the community near the Hanford nuclear site in south-central Washington state.

Learn more about The Hanford History Project

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