Many people who went on to become prominent elected officials, judges, journalists, and business executives realized when they were students that the study of history would help them to become astute observers, careful analysts, and gifted communicators. Notable history majors include President Franklin D. Roosevelt; current Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor; journalists Malcolm Gladwell and Wolf Blitzer; and business executives Donna Dubinsky, who played a pivotal role in the development of personal digital assistants, and Robert L. Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television. Hoby Darling, who graduated with a degree in history from Western in 1997, is currently the President and CEO of Skullcandy. (Photo courtesy of Skullcandy.)
The study of history helps us to appreciate the complexities of the human past and the connections between the past and the present. History courses also help students to develop analytical, interpretive, and evaluative skills. Students in history courses learn how to locate and analyze many types of evidence, from ancient texts recorded on clay tablets or papyrus scrolls to more modern manuscripts, published documents, photographs, audio recordings, and motion pictures. They also learn to use the evidence they have analyzed to construct historical interpretations and to evaluate the interpretations of other scholars. Participation in frequent class discussions and the writing of numerous papers help history majors to hone their communication skills.
No other major prepares students for as many different careers. All employers value history majors’ strong written and oral communication skills. Business executives and government officials prize history majors’ abilities to conduct research, analyze evidence, and evaluate arguments. Many history majors have successful careers in journalism and law, in addition to business and public service. A history major prepares you for teaching, for graduate study in several humanistic disciplines, many interdisciplinary programs, and library and information science. A growing number of history majors have made careers in the expanding field of public history, working in museums, archives, and historical preservation.