The Department of History and Politics at St. Scholastica offers several programs, including a major and minor in History, a major and minor in Political Science, and a double major in History and Social Studies Secondary Education. Through the Veritas General Education Program, the department also contributes to the liberal arts education of all St. Scholastica students. Department faculty members are dedicated teachers and accomplished scholars. The study of history and politics cultivates creative and critical thinking; fosters an appreciation for the richness and diversity of human experience and for the meaning of human dignity in varied historical and social contexts; and encourages responsible work on behalf of human values, justice, and the fuller realization of human potential. History, one of the classic liberal arts, is an excellent preparation for graduate studies as well as for many professions: education, law, politics, public policy, civil and foreign service, archival and library science, museum studies, historic preservation and public history. Political science can prepare students for a range of career opportunities not only in law, but in government, journalism, business or interest-group advocacy.
History and Politics Courses
Introduces world history from the origins of civilization to 1500. The course focuses on the societies and cultures of Eurasia: Southwest Asia (the Middle East), India, Persia, China, Greece and Rome, and Europe. Major themes include the founding and development of the world's great religions; political ideas, institutions and practices; law and legal institutions; society and economy; war, conquest and empire; the expression and meaning of human dignity in varied contexts; and the richness and diversity of human experience and aspiration in the foundational eras of the world's civilizations.
Introduces world history since 1500. The course surveys the societies and cultures of Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas. Themes include Europe's impact on the world, modernization and tradition, imperialism and empire, the great ideologies of the modern era, and growing consciousness of human rights and world citizenship. The course traces global patterns of change and continuity, while striving to understand the particular perspectives of distinct world cultures and the meanings these cultures have given to their historical experiences.
Introducing modern world history since 1492 – the year Columbus “sailed the ocean blue” and Spain conquered the city-state of Granada, the last Muslim bastion in western Christendom. As we shall see, the year 1492 was also the beginning of the European Renaissance and the first stirrings of political modernity. As anthropologist Mahmood Mamdani observes in his book Good Muslim, Bad Muslim, 1492 thus “stands as a gateway to two related endeavors: one the unification of the nation, the other the conquest of the world.” In this connection, one of our major themes will be Europe’s impact on the world vis-à-vis colonialism and its forms of knowledge (e.g. philology, anthropology, and comparative religion). While many historians on both sides of the Atlantic equate political modernity with the rise of democracy and a growing recognition of what eventually came to be called “human rights,” we will explore the multiple ways in which European modernity depended on the nation-state monopolizing the “legitimate” use of violence.
Examines the history of the region that eventually became the United States from pre-European contact through 1865. Major themes include: encounters between Native Americans, Europeans, and Africans in the formation of colonial North America; the social, political, economic, religious, and cultural forces that shaped various colonies; the origins and evolution of slavery and racism; the movement for Independence; the development of urbanization and industrialization in the North and the entrenchment of slavery in the South; sectional crisis and party politics; and the Civil War.
Explores major themes in United States history since 1865. Particular attention will be paid to the impact of wars on American society and culture; the roles of immigrants and immigration in shaping American identity and distinctiveness; how the nature and meaning of work have changed in a period that witnessed heavy industrialization and de-industrialization; movements for equality and civil rights; the cultural ferment of the Jazz Age and the 1960s; the challenges of the Depression; and the complexities of foreign policy in a global era.
Offers students an introduction to the history of religion and culture in the United States from the pre- Colonial era to the present. Explores the varieties of religious life in the United States (e.g. Native American religions, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and various "non-traditional" religions such as Mormonism, Spiritualism and Christian Science) from a combination of historical, literary and cultural perspectives.
Studies political, economic, social and cultural development of the American Indian from pre-contact through conquest.
Considers the intellectual history of Christian theology, examining people and their ideas from the birth of Jesus to the modern era.
Introduces the field of environmental history. Just as flora, fauna, wind, and pollution do not adhere to political boundaries, we will take a transnational and border-crossing approach, considering environmental histories of the Americas, north and south. Through course readings, we will take stock of the evolving field of environmental history and address convergences with other thematic areas, including race and political identity, gender and representation, urban and rural communities, capitalism and economics, the politics of natural disasters, science and climate change, and the transnational flow of people, plants, animals, natural resources, and ideas. In this course, we will set a local, place-based foundation in order to think expansively about the Americas. We will build toward a final written project about place, paying close attention to the research process throughout the semester, including writing proposals, finding sources and materials, producing a draft, and peer review.
Questioning how epidemics have impacted human societies and in part shaped human history is fundamental to this course, which lies at the crossroads of natural history and social history. We will consider elements of world history and culture from the perspective of the impact of epidemics ancient, modern, and possibly future – the Bubonic Plague being one. Specific topics include theories and conceptions of contagion, and social and medical responses; political impacts of epidemics and political responses to them; the impact of epidemics on belief, meaning, and responsibility (God, disfavored people, personal and professional responsibility); and the history of epidemics related to social and economic conditions.
Introduces hands-on survey of the concepts, methods, sources, and tools involved in the writing of history and in other forms of historiography. Includes a review of major historiographical trends, past and present.
Exploring the historical, social and cultural formation of Renaissance and Reformation Europe in global perspective, ca. 1300-1650, this History course begins with Jacob Burckhardt – the 19th century Swiss historian and art critic who set the terms of debate for modern interpretations of the Renaissance – before examining the startling changes in religion and culture, economics, science and technology, and world-wide exploration during the Renaissance and Reformation. The Renaissance was an age of amazing intellectual and political awakening, from the literary and aesthetic achievements of Petrarch, Leonardo da Vinci, and Raphael to the philosophical humanism of Erasmus and Thomas More. This era in European history was also a time of religious conflict and warfare, as Martin Luther in Germany, Huldreich Zwingli of Zurich, and Jean Calvin of Geneva ushered in the “Reformation” to protest and resist the religious and political practices of the Roman Catholic Church. Topics and critical issues include the rise of historiography, the Black Death, the Italian City-State, humanism, the development of the nation-state in Northern Europe, the rise of science, the wars of religion, the place of women in Renaissance and Reformation history and culture, and last but not least, widespread ideas about witchcraft, the apocalypse, and the last days.
Introduces world history from the end of World War II to the present. Major themes include the origins, course and end of the Cold War; the Soviet Union from Stalin to Gorbachev; China under Mao and his successors; decolonization, nationalism and the retreat from empire; the Vietnam War; Africa since independence; democracy, dictatorship and intervention in Latin America; war and peace in the Middle East; the Islamic world; human rights and the struggle for justice; the role of the United States in the contemporary world; and the meaning and responsibilities of global citizenship.
Introduces Russian history from the first Russian state (centered on Kiev and traditionally dated from 882) to the fall of the Romanov dynasty in 1917. Over these roughly 1,000 years, Russian history is divided into four main periods: Kievan Rus (until 1240), appanage Russia under the Mongols (1240-1462), Muscovy (1462-1689), and imperial Russia (1689-1917). After considering the historical background, this course will concentrate on the imperial period. Topics and themes include the nature and development of the Russian autocracy, Orthodoxy and religious experience, the growth of empire, serfdom, state and civil society, the intelligentsia, and the revolutionary movement. There will be some emphasis on intellectual and cultural history.
Introduces Russian history from late tsarism to the post-communist era. The first half of the course treats the last years of the tsarist autocracy, the Russian Revolution, Lenin and Stalin, the nature of Soviet communism, and the concept of totalitarianism. The second half of the course considers the Khrushchev and Brezhnev eras, Gorbachev and perestroika, the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia under Yeltsin and Putin, and the Chechen wars. Cultural and intellectual history is an integral part of the course.
Explores some of the critical issues and currents in European intellectual history from the eighteenth century to the present. Themes and topics include the European Enlightenment and its legacy; the idea of progress; modern social philosophies and ideologies such as liberalism, conservatism, socialism and anarchism; Romanticism and nationalism; communism and fascism; major developments in philosophical, religious, historical, and scientific thought; and recent trends such as feminism, existentialism, deconstruction, post colonialism, and postmodernism. The course will consider thinkers such as Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Darwin, Nietzsche, Freud, Einstein, Heidegger, Adorno, Sartre and Foucault.
Study of major selected themes and problems in European history since 1789. Topics may include intellectual history, nationalism, liberalism and democracy, religion, revolution and social change, and the role of the modern state.
Provides an introduction to 19th and 20th century Latin American history. Themes and issues will include the colonial legacy, modernization and nationalism, religion and politics, the revolutionary experience of the 20th century, the role of women and the continuing struggles of indigenous people.
Studies American foreign relations from the emergence of the U.S. as a world power at the end of the 19th century to the present. Examines principles, personalities and politics involved in the creation of modern American foreign policy.
Examines significant topics in African American history from the period of forced migration to the Americas through Reconstruction. Analyzes the roles African Americans of different classes and genders have played in shaping U.S. history.
Examines significant topics in African American history from Reconstruction through the current experience of diverse members of the African Diaspora living in the U.S. Analyzes the roles African Americans of different classes and genders have played in shaping U.S. history.
Uses historical events as case studies for basic economic principles. Students use historical analysis to investigate economic concepts and use economic theories to analyze U.S. history. Requirements: develop critical thinking skills so that students can evaluate the influences and trends that have shaped the economic institutions and events of the United States, both past and present.
Studies topics in United States history. Issues considered may include the role of race, class, and gender in the shaping of the nation state, movements for reform or liberation, and the lived experience of people and communities.
Explores how European imperialist accounts of non-European women's experiences have been crucial to culturally dominant ideas about feminism, globalization, and the legacy of the colonial state throughout the so-called Third World. Beginning with a critical and historical overview of feminist theory and practice, the course will trace recent studies, both historical and ethnographic, of how terms such as " women," "religion," and "the body" were radically changed by the colonial projects of the 19th century (e.g. in South Asia and Africa) - projects that are intimately related to contemporary debates on transnational women's movements and globalization.
An introduction to Islam from its founding to the present day. The course traces the establishment of Islam as one of the world's great religions and explores the fundamentals of Islamic belief and practice (in theology, mysticism, law and way of life). The focus is on Islam in the 20th century, including topics such as the colonial legacy; the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; the Iranian revolution; militant Islam, jihad, and terrorism; the diversity of Muslim cultures; and the liberal tradition in Islam.
Examines the history and culture of modern India from the origins of British colonialism in South Asia to the present. Beginning with a brief introduction to ancient, medieval and Moghul history (Muslim rule), the course focuses on British rule in India and the colonizing logic of its various forms of knowledge, from efforts by British Orientalists to study Indian languages and law to anthropology and the history of religions. Topics and critical issues include the vexed relations between Hindus, Shikhs and Muslims, the invention of authentic Indian religious "tradition" by British interpretations of ancient Hindu scriptures, the colonial history of the caste system, representations of Indian women by British missionaries and colonial officers, the role of Gandhi's rise to power and other indigenous nationalist movements, the origins of independence and the partition of the subcontinent between India and Pakistan in 1947, and the religious politics of contemporary Hindu nationalism.
Covers the impact of disease on human history, together with human responses to disease, first of all medicine itself. The focus is the western world and western medicine, beginning with the Greek and Roman eras (Hippocrates and Galen) and continuing through the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment, and the modern era. The course will trace the development of medical knowledge, including theories and conceptions of disease, from ancient humoral theory to bacteriology (germ theory), modern pathology, and genetics. It will also recount the history of medical practices, therapies, and technologies to cure and prevent disease, to heal people, and to promote health. Specific topics include disease as both a pathological reality and social construct; the social history of medicine, especially the social and economic conditions (notably poverty) of disease; the societal and cultural impact of epidemics such as the plague; health disparities and the effects of power, wealth, race, class, and sex on public health and healthcare; the medical exploitation of (and unethical experimentation on) vulnerable populations, e.g., the infamous Tuskegee study; and the dangers of biomedical reductionism in forms such as “scientific” racism, the eugenics movement, and Nazi medicine. At a philosophical level the course will ask what the history of medicine tells us about ourselves as human beings.
The Civil War was the greatest crisis, costliest war, and, many historians say, the defining episode in our national identity. Its impact has rippled through American history for more than a century and a half, up to the present. Central to the cause of the war was the issue of slavery. And central to the execution and outcome of the war was Abraham Lincoln. This course will examine each of these three critical stories in American history. Each of them will be examined in themselves, but also in the larger context of how they reflect the development of the United States.
History courses not a part of the regular curriculum but are occasionally taught by guests or regular faculty on special topics. Each course taught under "Topics" will also have a specific course title listed on the schedule and transcripts.
In-depth study of special historical topics or problems in world history.
In-depth study of special historical topics or problems in American history.
In-depth study of special historical topics or problems in European history.
Internships are an opportunity for students majoring in history to gain first-hand experience in history related fields. Internships can vary and are not limited to work with museums, historic sites, archives, historic preservation agencies and libraries. Prior approval of the host institution or agency is necessary along with a learning agreement for the history internship.
Self-determined program of study under faculty direction for the student whose interests extend beyond the curricular offerings of the History Department.
Introduction to the discipline of political science and the nature of political discourse, institutions and organizations. Topics range from politics and culture to terrorism and international relations.
Offers students the opportunity to engage in historical reflection on 9/11 in light of recent work in religious studies and political philosophy on the rise of global religious violence throughout the world today. Examines 9/11 and its aftermath in relation to contemporary debates on the American-led "war on terror," the socio-political origins of international terrorism, the politics of corporate-led globalization, and transnational peace movements in the wake of the war in Iraq.
Students are exposed to divergent points of view and forms of analysis that surround the debate over globalization. The course stresses that globalization is not only about economics and politics but also wide ranging cultural, social and moral issues confronting the world community.
Study of national government and development of form and functions of the federal system. Topics range from constitutional issues to public policy debates.
An examination of debates dealing with global environmental problems and the varying roles of nongovernmental organizations. Topics vary from resource wars to environmental racism as issues confronting the human community.