Historic Changes

History department impacted by new general studies requirements.

As a liberal arts institution, we should pride ourselves on offering a variety of subjects to current and prospective students. Recently, Virginia Wesleyan University’s administration decided to implement a general studies system to fully replace the system currently in place. This involves taking a few classes in each of the schools (School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, School of Arts and Humanities, and School of Social Science) that Wesleyan’s academic departments were split into following the upgrade to university status last year.

In the recent weeks, a vote was made to decide the fate of one subject: history. The vote concluded that history was no longer going to be required as part of general studies. To me, this idea, though there may be some logic behind it, is insane for many reasons.

First of all, without it being a general study requirement, history will not be as noticeable as many of the other majors. History is not a subject that many people consider majoring in in the first place. At least being a general studies requirement encourages students to explore the subject, even if they wouldn’t otherwise. These days, most people see history as nothing more than a boring lecture on things that have already happened. If they take at least one history class, it could change their minds. History is one of those subjects that bored most of us to tears back in high school, but in college it’s different. In college, you can explore multiple categories of history and different subjects within those categories. You can study the history of almost any part of the world. New students may not realize this fact if they are not required to at least try history out for a general study.

Second of all, even if history is not disappearing as a major right now, not requiring at least some level of history takes away from the liberal arts education that we constantly brag about having here at VWU. How can we call ourselves a liberal arts institution, if we do not require classes in all the basic foundational areas? History itself may not be the only subject in the field of social sciences, but it is a subject that is vital for every student to take. I respect that the school is trying to make some changes to pave the way for a new future for us, but this might be going a bit too far. We cannot forget the basic foundation that this school was founded on so many years ago.

Finally, it allows us to become more well-rounded students. It gives a look into events that have happened before and we see the mistakes and accomplishments of those who came before us. Ironically, society has grown throughout its history because we knew history in the first place. It is a vital subject that helps to further perfect ideas or concepts because we see what errors in judgement were made before. Learning about the histories of specific parts of the world can also be good for those in major because if you want to specialize in working with a specific group of people then it would help to know the history of that group.

Like I said, history is not disappearing as a major right now nor is it popular, but it’s a subject that does not need to fall through the cracks and disappear. We need to preserve and maintain it. Though it may not be the most popular major, we currently have only around 25 people majoring in it, but that is not enough justification to slowly put the program behind all these other big name subjects in the social sciences. We need to give credit where credit is due. I may be biased in saying this because I am a history lover, but I do not care.

This is a big decision that the school has made and none of us should take it lightly. This could mean the end of the history department one day because if no one thinks about history, then who will take these classes? I even heard there’s a possibility that if a professor retires or leaves, they will likely not be replaced. This could mean that, eventually, the history department will fade away and dissolve. I sincerely hope this does not happen, but it is a depressing possibility. Please take this information to heart and spread this news to all who will listen.

Jonathan Joyner