The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

Not a Thing of the Past: Majoring in History at Colgate

Colgate University

Colgate University offers a wide variety of majors, and its History major offers students the ability to pursue a variety of interests. The History major offers two pathways: “Field of Focus,” which allows students to concentrate their studies on a specific domain of history, and “The Global Pathway,” which provides students the opportunity to explore the history of different regions of the world.

Assistant Professor of History Rachel Newman emphasized the wide range of topics students can study as a History major at Colgate.

“History really has something for everyone,” Newman said. “You can pursue an interest in a particular area of the world or a specific theme. Once they’re in our classes, students often keep taking more courses with our faculty as they learn more about the particular historical periods or topics that interest them. To get from ‘I never knew that this happened’ to writing a senior thesis on that previously unknown piece of history, the path is just a series of courses and research papers!”

Newman cited the History major’s flexibility as a quality that sets it apart from other departments, revealing that the program’s two pathways offer students a unique opportunity to specialize in a particular area.

“I think our major is especially customizable to student interests,” Newman said. “With just one required course for the major, [the] History Workshop, students can build a personalized combination of other courses to take to complete the major. Students with a thematic interest can pursue the ‘Field of Focus’ pathway to develop expertise on something like imperialism, gender or other questions that cut across time and space to shape human experiences.”

Junior Leah Massa, a History major, agreed about the excellence of the History department. She credited the professors for their dedication and encouragement.

“The History department here is made up of some of the kindest, most wonderful souls on this campus,” Massa explained. “Advisors and teachers work hard to connect with you and support you in the ‘wild-goose’ chases of different research projects.”

However, Massa acknowledged that, despite its merits, majoring in History comes with challenges like any other area of study.

“It is definitely very messy,” Massa said. “There are not a lot of ‘happy endings’ being depicted in history books and not very many neat threads to follow. Being a historian requires massive amounts of patience when digging through the archives, but the second you find something you find valuable to your argument, it is euphoric.”

Junior and fellow History major Ethan Halbreich felt drawn not only to history as a discipline but to the widely applicable experience it provides.

“I feel that the skills you gain from history research are invaluable,” Halbreich said. “Learning to research in archives and structure arguments is useful for any course as well as any career, whether it’s politics or even a data-driven STEM career.”

The History major serves as an opportunity for students to understand the contemporary world through a historical lens while being able to exercise autonomy in choosing topics of study.

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About the Contributor
Reade Fenner
Reade Fenner, Assistant Baker's Dozen Editor
Reade Fenner is a sophomore from Olney, MD with a prospective concentration in economics and a minor in philosophy. She has previously served as a staff writer for the Baker's Dozen and News sections. On campus, Reade is involved in Colgate's Pet Pals.

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