Christin Hancock, Ph.D., chair

Faculty: Eifler, Els, Franco, Hancock, Moentmann, Wheeler, Woodard

The history program offers all the University’s undergraduates the opportunity to acquire a working familiarity with the history of Western civilization, the United States, and other areas of the world, together with the institutions and structures of organized society. Its major curriculum is designed to inculcate a knowledge of particular periods and issues in the past, an understanding of the discipline of history, and the ability to use historical inquiry for analysis of contemporary self and society. History graduates enter such diverse careers as lawyers, professors, teachers, archivists, librarians, foreign service officers, public administrators, and investment bankers.

Beyond the history major, the program meets such goals as a part of both the University core as well as the upper-division electives for bachelor of arts majors. Furthermore, the program includes courses which provide vital knowledge for students in other programs, including secondary education, political science, international languages and cultures, theology, ROTC, social justice, Catholic studies, environmental studies, overseas studies, and the Moreau Center.

Learning Outcomes for History Majors

History graduates of the University of Portland should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of key historical facts, values, and ideas that have shaped civilizations throughout history.
    1. Identify major developments in the history of Western Civilization.
    2. Demonstrate comprehension of basic historical developments in a variety of civilizations.
    3. Demonstrate understanding of connections between historical events, ideas, and values over time.
  2. Analyze primary sources in their historical context.
    1. Identify and gather appropriate primary sources.
    2. Demonstrate awareness of connections between sources and their historical context.
  3. Analyze secondary sources and identify various approaches to historical interpretation through critical reading.
    1. Demonstrate the ability to read a secondary source to understand author’s basic argument.
    2. Demonstrate the ability to explain author’s approach to topic and its connection to primary sources used.
  4. Construct arguments using the historical method and based on evidence from primary sources.
  5. Demonstrate the ability to conduct independent historical research.
    1. Identify a thesis topic.
    2. Identify, collect, and analyze historiography on the topic.
    3. Identify, collect, and analyze primary sources on the topic (using library, archival, and other appropriate material).
    4. Develop topic into a viable historical argument.
    5. Based on sources identified, write original interpretation of chosen historical research.
    6. Present results of research in both oral and written form.

Capstone Experience

Each history major completes a senior thesis as their capstone experience. In preparing a thesis, students become historians themselves by conducting primary source research on a historical topic of their choice. Through this process, students demonstrate their mastery of a specific time period or event in history, independent research skills, the critical reading of both primary and secondary sources, and the ability to construct and publicly present a historical argument based on primary source evidence. Several of the most outstanding theses are chosen each year to be published in the department’s student history journal, Northwest Passages.