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Kansas Wesleyan University

As history continues to unfold, new documents are discovered and your own worldview changes, you will acquire a keen appreciation for the complexity of the discipline as you also develop your own ideas about the past.

In the History Department, you will learn to think critically, defend your own viewpoint and write convincingly about history. You will also acquire real-world experience and skills by completing a hands-on internship in local museums or libraries and a senior thesis based on your own original research in local libraries and archives.

KWU’s Department of History offers two Bachelor of Arts degrees, allowing students to major in History or History Education. In addition, the department offers a minor in History.

Students interested in attending law school might also consider a History Major for their Bachelor of Arts Degree.

About the History Program

Mission Statement

The mission of the Kansas Wesleyan University Department of History is to create highly competent teachers and leaders by developing in our majors and in other students: a connection between historical thinking and citizenship; an understanding of the complex nature of the historical record; an ability to engage in historical inquiry, research, and analysis, and an appreciation of ethical responsibility and professional behavior for historians.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Statements

The DEI vision for Kansas Wesleyan is to promote a diverse culture of equity, inclusion, integrity, and collaboration that deepens understanding and embraces intercultural and global experiences for students, faculty and staff.

History Department
The history department upholds the Methodist tradition which embraces individuals regardless of gender, class, race or religion.  In keeping with this tradition, the department rejects racism, sexism and religious discrimination. It offers classes that cover the diverse range of human experiences across time and geography.  The history department believes it is important to treat all students with dignity and to encourage dialogue about the past, creating learning environments where the contributions of everyone are respected and evaluated based on historical evidence.

Updated September 2023

Program Goals

Students who complete the Bachelor of Arts in History should be able to:

Demonstrate the basic skills of historical understanding and analysis, including the use and evaluation of various types of primary and secondary sources, and as a result write effectively and convincingly.
Demonstrate broad historical knowledge and an awareness of the diversity of human experience that spans geography, time-frames, and ideologies.
Engage in meaningful, constructive, and collaborative discussion and teamwork with others.
Apply historical knowledge and skills to settings outside of the campus community such as internships, research, and professional careers.

History Courses

HIST 105 World Civilizations I — 3 Credit Hours (Fall)

This course covers the history of the Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Chinese, Indian, Greek, Roman, Islamic and European civilizations to the year 1500. Its goal is to give students an understanding of the history and diversity of world cultures.

HIST 106 World Civilizations II — 3 Credit Hours (Spring)

This course is a continuation of History 105, covering the history of European, Asian, African and American civilizations since 1500. It emphasizes political, social, cultural and economic change as well as encounters and conflicts within and among civilizations.

HIST 130 World Geography — 3 Credit Hours (Spring)

This course provides students an introduction to world geography. Through the use of map work, small and large hands-on projects, and field work, it deals with the distribution of human activities and concerns around the world, including languages, religions, social customs, economic activities, migration and settlement patterns, the availability and consumption of resources, and humanity’s need and responsibility to protect and nurture the world and its varied environments. This course satisfies one Liberal Studies requirement for Natural World Stewardship.

HIST 220 American History I — 3 Credit Hours (Fall)

This course covers American history, beginning with the experience of Native Americans and continuing to 1865 with the end of the Civil War. It focuses on the economic, social and intellectual forces that shaped nationhood in the region we know as the United States. This course satisfies one Liberal Studies requirement for Community and World Exploration.

HIST 221 American History II — 3 Credit Hours (Spring)

This course covers United States history, from 1865 to the present. It focuses on the ways industrial, demographic and political change affected the people who lived in the United States. It attempts to help students assess the impact that recent historical developments have had on the development of modern culture in the United States. This course satisfies one Liberal Studies requirement for Community and World Exploration.

HIST 255 Historical Biography — 3 Credit Hours (Odd Year Spring)

Historical Biography is a rotating topics course that uses the biographies of important historical personalities to provide insight into specific historical periods. There historical periods will vary in each course section and may include such topics as “Ancient Thinkers,” “Ancient Emperors,” “Enlightened Social Theorists,” “Great Humanitarians,” “Great Military Leaders,” and “Dictators of the 20th Century,” among others. Special attention will be placed on the role of biography as a historical tool and on biography as a form of writing. In so doing, the course will examine how biography can shape our understanding of the institutions, values and people of the past and the present, including ourselves. Students will engage in significant amounts and varied types of written composition and review. This course satisfies the Writing Intensive (WI) Requirement #2. Prerequisite: ENGL 120 (or equivalent) with a grade of “C-” or higher.

HIST275 The Majesty of America’s National Parklands — 3 Credit Hours (Spring)

In this course, the students will identify and address important aspects of the interactions between Americans and their national parks, forests, and monuments. We will study the history of the National Park Service and National Forest Service and the individual characteristics of many of our parks, forests, and monuments. We will also address various needs and problems that currently exist in these relationships between visitors and these special environments, with a mind to providing possible answers and resolutions that can prolong the relationship between ourselves and these unique parts of our national patrimony. This course satisfies one Liberal Studies requirement in Natural and World Stewardship.

HIST 280 Research Methods in History — 3 Credit Hours (Fall)

Research Methods in History enables students to learn the techniques of historical research. Students also learn the basic principles of historiography to understand how historians have understood history and how they develop arguments that fit into a scholarly conversation. This class is suitable for anyone who wants to learn how to find information in all its hiding places and learn how historians draw meaning from it. The course could be especially relevant to students in English, Religion, Philosophy or the social sciences. HIST 280 must be passed with a final grade of “C” or higher before a student may enroll in HIST 499 (Senior Thesis).

HIST 300 Eras in American History — 3 Credit Hours (Fall)

This course provides students the opportunity to study a definite chronological period in American history. Students will be able to gain more insight into the complexities of historical change by assessing the political, social and economic factors that affected specific decades or eras. This class is intended to provide more detail and analysis regarding those topics than can be gained during a survey course.

HIST 310 U.S. Constitution and Government – 3 Credit Hours (Odd Year Fall)

This course is designed to provide students with basic knowledge about the history and development of the United States government. It provides information about the history and interpretation of the Constitution of the United States as well as information about the political history of the nation at the local, state and national levels.

HIST 320 Hands-On History — 3 Credit Hours (On Demand)

This is a course that requires students to engage with the past using non-traditional methods of instruction. The instructional method may vary from year to year, depending on the instructor. Possible course concentrations are: creation of historical documentaries, research in and GPS mapping of historic locations, building websites of historic documents, conducting field work or participating in Reacting to the Past roleplay. Reacting to the Past games explore important ideas of the past by recreating the historical context that shaped them. Students engage one another as members of factions or in individual roles in a series of historic assemblies. The course focuses on evaluation of primary sources and the innovative presentation of those sources through collaborative activity.

HIST 345 The Middle Ages — 3 Credit Hours (On Demand)

This course provides the opportunity for intensive study of medieval European history. Highlights include the blending of Roman and Germanic traditions, numerous aspects of Christianity and Islam, feudalism and manorialism, growth of monarchies, the Crusades and other wars, medieval technology, architecture, literature, medieval society and the Late Middle Ages decline.

HIST 350 Making History: Great Events and Turning Points that Influenced the World — 3 Credit Hours (Fall)

“Making History: Great Events and Turning Points that Influenced the World” is a rotating topics course that investigates important events, ideas, and decisions in history that have influenced, and even changed the world. The course focuses on cause and effect, achievement and failure, and lessons learned throughout history. The course satisfies the Liberal Studies requirements for “World and Community Exploration,” and will include either a service learning or community service component. Course subtopics may include areas such as Modern Latin America, the Cold War, Ancient Greece and Rome, the Middle Ages, the Holocaust and other Genocides, the World Wars, and the Emergence of the City and the Empire. Under different subtopics, this course may be repeated for credit, per Liberal Studies and History Department policies. Prerequisite: ENGL 120 or equivalent. This course satisfies one Liberal Studies requirement for Community and World Exploration.

HIST 355 Political History and Expression — 3 Credit Hours (Even Year Spring)

Political History and Expression is a rotating topics course that focuses on political events and theories in an historical context and, specifically, the manner in which politicians express their ideas and how their constituencies respond. The goal is to understand the communicative relationship between governments and the governed, in oral, visual and subconscious manners, and determine the role and contribution that such communicative relationships have had in the development of significant periods of political history. Different sub-topics may include “Comparative Totalitarianism,” “Democracy from Athens to Philadelphia,” and others. This course satisfies one of the Liberal Studies Requirements for Human Expression. Under different subtopics the course may be retaken for credit, per Liberal Studies and History Department policies. Prerequisite: ENGL 120 or equivalent.

HIST 380 Reacting to the Past — 3 Credit Hours (Fall)

Reacting to the Past is a rotating topics course that uses roleplaying to immerse students into particular moments of social, political and intellectual debate and change. Students run these games and assume various roles in debates. In addition, students engage primary sources from the events and use them to defend their arguments, with the purpose of succeeding over others in difficult and complicated scenarios. The outcomes do not have to follow the actual historic events – students are free to “alter” history, using the original sources to support their positions. Each course section will typically play 2-3 reacting games. Game topics may include Democracy in Athens, Revolution in France, The Trial of Anne Hutchinson, India on the Eve of Independence, The Council of Nicaea, The Reformation Parliament, The Trial of Galileo, and many others. Under different subtopics, this course may be repeated for credit, per Liberal Studies and History Department policies. Prerequisite – at least one of the following: ENGL 120, HIST 105, 106, 220, or 221 or equivalents. This course satisfied one Liberal Studies requirement for Human Expression.

HIST 386 The Wesleyan Journey — 1-6 Credit Hours (On Demand)

This course combines service-learning with travel, either domestic or abroad, to provide students an opportunity to strengthen values and abilities, in addition to learning specific academic content. The service projects will be linked to the academic content of the class, and the course may require a co-requisite or stand-alone as its own special topics course. Credit varies based on the length of the journey and may involve additional fees for travel. Prerequisite: INTD110 is recommended but not required for this course.

HIST 400 Studies in U.S. History — 3 Credit Hours (Even Year Spring)

This course provides the opportunity for the intensive study of United States history. Under different subtitles, the course may be repeated for credit. Possible topics include the social history, religious history, intellectual history and cultural history of the United States.

HIST 410 History of Kansas and the Great Plains — 3 Credit Hours (Odd Year Spring)

This course informs students about the development of the state of Kansas. It provides information about the geography, history and character of Kansas as well as its role in the larger region of the American Great Plains.

HIST 420 Studies in European History — 3 Credit Hours (Even Year Fall)

This course provides the opportunity for intensive study in European History. Under different subtitles, the course may be repeated for credit. Possible topics include History of Spain, European Peasant Society, Europe at War and History of Soviet Russia.

HIST 425 The Lessons of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust — 3 Credit Hours (Odd Year Spring)

This course investigates the history of Germany, its domestic policies and its relationships with its neighbors just before and during World War II. Its purpose is to understand how and why a great nation of good people followed a dictator down the path of racist nationalism and worldwide conquest to become responsible for mass destruction and the deaths of millions of innocent people. In addition to learning the historical facts and evaluating what happened and why, students will determine what lessons can be learned from Nazi Germany and the Holocaust and how these lessons can be applied today; to the students themselves in their private lives and relationships with others, to the United States as a leading member of the international community and to the world community at large. This course satisfies one Liberal Studies Requirement for Personal Awareness. Prerequisite: ENGL 120 (or equivalent).

HIST 460 Internship — 1–12 Credit Hours (On Demand)

Students will work as interns in local institutions, under the supervision of the institution and their faculty advisor. The goal is to develop practical skills outside of the classroom. See Internship under Alternative Credit Equivalencies.

HIST 490 Independent Study — Variable Credit (On Demand)

In consultation with the faculty, students may design special projects. With faculty approval, these may be substituted for required courses. See Independent Study under Alternate Means to Academic Credit for more information.

HIST 499 Senior Thesis — 3 Credit Hours (Spring)

This course will guide students through the capstone project of their undergraduate careers. Each student will write an original research paper based on primary sources, using the resources of the Eisenhower Presidential Library, the Smoky Hill Museum or other local archives. The course is open to history majors as well as pre-law students and students from other majors who desire an advanced research experience. Prerequisite: HIST 280 with a final grade of “C” or higher.

Meet the Faculty

Click here to meet the History faculty!

Holocaust Remembrance and Genocide Awareness Week

To learn more about the history department’s participation in Holocaust Remembrance and Genocide Awareness Week, click here.

Our Students

KWU Department of History graduates work as lawyers, museum professionals, librarians, office managers and in sales. They are regularly accepted into graduate school. Many work as teachers. While at KWU, many history majors have served in Student Government positions, particularly as Student Government President, and have been accepted into interesting and important internships at places like Smoky Hill Museum, Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, and the Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America National Organization in Washington, D.C. and the office of Senator Jerry Moran, also in Washington, D.C.. While here, many of our majors have written research papers that have gone on to win the prestigious “Best of KWU” recognition.


The American Bar Association website lists history as one of the majors which are traditionally chosen by students who wish to enter law school. A history major requires students to evaluate written material, organize information, do research, and draw conclusions. All of these skills would be useful preparation for law school and appear on the American Bar Association’s list of core skills and values. However, students who are considering the law as a career should chose a major which interests them, realizing that law schools accept candidates from a wide variety of disciplines.

The best preparation for legal training, according to the American Bar Association (ABA), is “taking a broad range of difficult courses from demanding instructors,” as stated in the ABA’s Preparing for Law School webpage. The History Department prides itself on challenging students and would be a good choice as a major for those considering a legal career.

For more information, contact Dr. Anita Specht, associate professor and Department of History “Pre-Law” advisor, or call (785) 833-4357.

History FAQ

What can I do with a degree in History?

As a liberal arts major, of course, the world is your oyster and you can consider a multitude of careers. Training in history provides the knowledge and skills that allow one to succeed both within and outside the historical profession. Employers in a remarkably broad range of fields recognize the value of a bachelor’s degree in history, knowing that successful history majors have become adept at skills that are critical in the workplace. History graduates are valued not only for their ability to write well, but also for their proficiency in analyzing information, viewing problems within a larger context without losing sight of important details, and understanding the complexities of change over time.

In addition, admissions committees for graduate schools, law schools, and other professional programs have long appreciated the skills and knowledge that applicants with history backgrounds bring to other fields of inquiry. Of course, for those hoping to pursue careers within the historical profession (college history professor, social studies teacher, archivist, curator, information manager, consultant, genealogist, etc.), a history degree is indispensable.

The following people started out as history majors. The wide variety of careers they pursued and their significant achievements express the general utility of a history degree.

Politicians: Theodore Roosevelt (President), Woodrow Wilson (President), Franklin Roosevelt (President), John F. Kennedy (President), Richard Nixon (President), George W. Bush (President), W.E.B. DuBois (founder of the NAACP), Henry Cabot Lodge (Senator), George McGovern (Senator and Presidential candidate), George Mitchell (Senator), Orrin Hatch (Senator), Henry Kissinger (Secretary of State and National Security Advisor), Newt Gingrich (Speaker of the House), Antonin Scalia (Justice of the Supreme Court), Elena Kagan (Justice of the Supreme Court*), Anthony Kennedy (Justice of the Supreme Court), “Lady Bird” (Claudia) Johnson, First Lady.

Entertainers: Katharine Hepburn (actress), Conan O’Brien (late night talk show host), Lauryn Hill (singer), Julia Child (author and television chef), Brian Dennehy (actor, writer, and producer), Edward Norton (actor), Ellen Barkin (actress), Michael Palin (member of Monty Python and travel writer), Janeane Garofolo (comedienne), Jimmy Buffet (singer), Stockard Channing (actress), Steve Carell (actor and comedian), Larry David (actor, writer, and producer — creator of “Seinfeld” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Will Forte (actor).

News Media: Chris Berman (ESPN sportscaster), Wolf Blitzer (CNN anchor), Seymour Hersh (investigative journalist), Charles Kuralt (travel and news correspondent), Bill O’Reilly (FOX news anchor and host), Charlie Rose (television host).
Business: Lee Iacocca (President of Ford and Chairman of Chrysler), Martha Stewart (lifestyle guru), James Kilts (President, Gillette Corp.), Richard Braddock (CEO, Eastman Kodak Corp.), Carly Fiorina (CEO, Hewlett-Packard and senior executive, AT&T and Lucent Technologies), Howard Stringer (founder and CEO of Sony Corp.), Samuel Palmisano (CEO of IBM Corp.), Ben Silverman (Co-Chairman of NBC).

Sports: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (NBA – Lakers and Bucks), Bill Bradley (NBA – Knicks), Jackie Joyner-Kersee (Olympic gold, silver, and bronze medals winner in track and field), Adonal Foyle (NBA – Warriors, Magic, and Grizzlies), Johanes Maliza (soccer – Earthquakes and Islanders), Grant Hill (NBA – Pistons and Clippers).

Other: Elena Kagan (1st female Dean of Harvard University Law School*), Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. (author and special assistant to President John F. Kennedy), Eric Kandel (winner – Nobel Prize in Physiology), Robert Fogel (winner – Nobel Prize in Economics), Christa McAuliffe (teacher and crew member of the Challenger), Chris Hughes (founder of Facebook), Prince Edward (3rd son of Queen Elizabeth II of England), Chelsea Clinton (daughter of former president).