Academic Programs

Division of Social Studies

Historical Studies


The Historical Studies Program focuses primarily, but not exclusively, on political, social, economic, and cultural aspects of history. The program encourages students to examine history through the prism of other relevant disciplines (for example, sociology, anthropology, economics, philosophy) and different forms of expression (art, film, literature, drama, architecture). The program also introduces students to a variety of methodological perspectives used in historical research and to philosophical assumptions about men, women, and society that underlie these perspectives.

Areas of Study

Study plans can be divided into the following categories: national, regional, or local history (for example, American, European, Asian, Russian); period-oriented history (ancient, medieval, early modern, modern); and topical specializations (environmental history, urban history, diplomatic history, ethnic history, African American history, history of gender and sexuality, history of ideas, history of science and technology). Individual study plans may be further subdivided into specific areas of concentration.


In the Lower College, students are expected to take three or four history courses covering different regions and time periods and using a variety of research methodologies. Students are required to take a global core course before graduation, and preferably before Moderation. For Moderation, students are required to submit the standard two short papers and a sample paper on a historical subject. By the time of their graduation, students must have completed between six and eight history courses covering at least three world regions and one period prior to 1800. As part of the preparation for their Senior Project, juniors should take a Major Conference.

Recent Senior Projects in Historical Studies

  • “The Magnificent Procession of Grand Duke Alexei: Alexei Romanoff in the United States, 1871–1872”
  • “Maoist Chinese Revolutionary Foreign Policy in East Africa”
  • “The Roosevelts and the Memory of Dutch New York”
  • “Transmission Impossible: U.S. Cultural Diplomacy, Radio Free Europe, and the Crisis in Hungary 1956”


The course descriptions that appear in the College Catalogue are presented numerically, beginning with 100-level introductory classes and continuing through 300- level research seminars. Tutorials and Major Conferences are also offered regularly; recent examples include Anarchism, Critical Geography, and The Decision to Drop the Bomb.