No Time for Stalin.. Declare History Major!
Wittenberg University focuses on tapping into specific educational skills that can help drive its students further in their educational pursuits or occupational fields after college.
Among these skills taught are poised writing, critical thinking and writing, and everyone’s favorite… research. With more than 900 courses helping students harness these skills across a variety of more than 80 majors and minors, there are many ways to acquire these abilities.
One department, out of many on campus, that helps students attain these real world skills is Hollenbeck’s very own history department. All professors focus on different eras of history, helping to encompass a broad range of historical elements, as well as teaching styles.
After losing Professor Josh Paddison this past year, due to the end of a three-year contract, the department had to adjust its curriculum so it could continue to offer a variety of classes for students.
The department also puts on a series of events throughout the school year such as colloquiums and offering Skype interviews with alumni who discuss their experience in attending undergraduate schools to students who are interested.
Molly Wood, a history professor, has been with Witt since 1999. With this being her first job out of graduate school, she fell in love with the small campus atmosphere.
“I like having small classes because I get to know the students better, and I feel that they learn more efficiently,” Wood said.
Wood specifically enjoys the history department because she feels the members are all very close-knit and have established a family atmosphere.
Focusing on the U.S. Modern era of history, Wood’s two favorite classes to teach are U.S. Since 1945 and Wars in Iraq & Afghanistan.
U.S. Since 1945 is a 100-level class that has a 35-student max limit, and is mostly comprised of freshmen. This is where most history majors or minors start their studies within the department.
Wars in Iraq & Afghanistan is an upper level course that has a 15-student limit, and is completely discussion-based.
“Because it’s discussion-based, we want less kids in one class because we want them to engage more in conversation and not all students get the chance to do that when there’s 30 or 35 kids in one room,” Wood said.
Matt Milliken, senior history major, expressed that his favorite teacher is Wood, and he recalls one educational experience that he had with her in her Vietnam class.
The students were to listen to a variety of songs made during the era of the Vietnam War to better understand the feelings evoked during that time period.
“By listening to the music, it helped us to better understand the counter-culture during the Vietnam War, and ultimately helped students interpret the written documents of that time period,” Milliken said.
All of the history courses at Wittenberg are intended to help students attain better research, analytic, writing and speaking skills, but Milliken thinks the most valuable skill learned from history classes is learning to interpret and relay information.
Once students reach higher-level courses, they begin to take papers they have previously written and turn them into their senior thesis.
“You eventually take a three-page paper you wrote in one class and turn it into your dissertation,” Wood said.
Wood expressed how she is a historian and a student, continuing to learn and do research herself while also teaching students.
“When I have kids that are in my senior seminar class and they are writing long papers, I tell them I know what they are going through because I have a paper due next week,” Wood said.
Milliken said that we can learn from the mistakes people have made in history in terms of power, leadership and politics.
“If you have a good basis about the people before us, then I feel like you can have a good basis for where you’re going,” Milliken said.