Understand the Past, Engage the Present

A series of busts next to shelves of books

Welcome to the Department of History

COVID-19 is not the first pandemic to hit Whatcom county. Over 100 years ago Whatcom county fell subject to the Spanish Influenza. To learn more check out the Bellingham Centennial Celebration put together by the Whatcom County Historical Society in collaboration with WWU Students & Faculty.

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, was the President and CEO of Skullcandy.

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.

Statement of Principles

  • As a department composed of people with many different backgrounds, identities, skill sets, and opinions, we are committed to an inclusive department and university. Although we do not speak with one voice, in our teaching and scholarship we share a commitment to the discipline of history as a critical tool for understanding the struggles of the present.
  • Many students feel unsafe on campus, and we share their commitment to a university in which all people are welcome and encouraged to learn. We appreciate students’ engagement with curricular questions and their aspiration for a university that empowers students to be effective agents of change.
  • We see the value students place on knowing and using history. We welcome the opportunity to work cooperatively from our own distinct positions towards a better university. 
  • Our department is committed to academic excellence and providing curricular offerings dealing with the fullest possible range of locations, cultures, and experiences. Our courses encourage critical thinking, rigorous inquiry, and intellectual growth.

April 24, 2019

Mission Statement

The study of history is essential to a liberal education. The mission of the Department of History is to create and nurture a community of scholars, including students in general education courses, undergraduate majors and minors, graduate students, faculty, and staff, who value historical thinking. We prepare students for thoughtful participation in public affairs, further education, and a wide range of careers by fostering an appreciation of the diversity of human cultures and experiences, the development of research and analytical skills, and the ability to communicate effectively, especially in writing.