Many who study History are simply drawn to the field because of their fascination with the past. Some students bring their historical interest with them from high school; others discover it once they start taking CU classes. Because fact is often more intriguing than fiction, we have an opportunity to learn from the peculiarities of the past. We seek to understand historical actors on their own terms by keeping in mind the forces that influenced their lives. By doing so, we learn to understand the present from a broader perspective.
The study of History for many is not only entertaining, enchanting, and educational but also practical, useful, and insightful. It helps us to become more aware of our present and more cosmopolitan in our interaction with other cultures. When crises erupt, societies often turn to history to explain their challenges. Even without crisis, history cultivates awareness of the present forces of change. By doing so, we cultivate interpersonal skills and cultural awareness.
Perhaps now more than ever we feel that a thorough knowledge of history is vital for advancing civic discourse and political awareness in our society. Our students learn about the historical roots of modern government and society, cultivating a commitment to participatory citizenship. In short, the study of history fosters the fragile gift of a free political society.
In addition, business leaders often tell us that the study of history and the liberal arts have traditionally prepared students to think, to consider evidence, and to express themselves clearly. These critical thinking skills are increasingly in short supply and in high demand. History graduates can apply them to fields ranging from engineering to screenplay writing.
In October 2013, a Fortune 500 CEO encouraged students to seek training in the liberal arts in order to "analyze information, be it from people or a spreadsheet, and make reasoned and critical decisions." The study of history facilitates the development of these very skills and is therefore both a practical skill and an interesting focus for undergraduate students. However, we do not merely ask students to evaluate evidence; we ask students to explore new ways of examining long-standing problems. By asking our students to explain not only how the past happened but also the more complex problem of why it happened as it did, we promote innovative approaches to complex problems. As a CEO from Australia explained, by focusing on the study of "complexity and ambiguity," the liberal arts teach creative problem solving skills.
We welcome prospective students who wish to learn more about the broad-ranging skills that the discipline of history conveys to inquiring minds. By helping students not only to understand the past but also to develop critical thinking, analytical, and writing skills, we prepare students for entry into an increasingly complicated society that demands the abilities to think and to adapt.