History chairs dismiss concerns over not requiring U.S. history course

Historians in the News
tags: education



A recent report criticizing the fact that most top colleges do not require students majoring in history to take a U.S. history class misses the mark, according to professors at some of the schools spotlighted in the report.

The scholars, in email interviews with The College Fix, said most students enroll in U.S. history classes regardless of whether it’s required, so handwringing over the lack of the requirement is moot.

“Almost all of our history majors love US history and take courses in it, so having a requirement would be a bit like requiring them to eat,” said Professor Dan Smail, chair of the Harvard University history department.

Likewise, History chair at Rice University Alida Metcalf said that “our history program is noted for excellence in American history, and our courses in U.S. history are popular…we believe that when students elect to take courses, rather than being required to do so, their motivation, interest, and creativity is heightened.”

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni found in its “No U.S. History? How College History Departments Leave the United States out of the Major” report that the lack of a thematic or chronological U.S. History course requirement among the nation’s top-ranked schools is “a truly breathtaking abandonment of intellectual standards and professional judgement.” ...




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