As historians, whether students or teachers, we study humankind’s past in all its diversity, both distant and immediate.
The History Department provides ways for students:
1. To encounter a wide variety of cultures, experiences, and policies throughout the world and to understand their internal dynamics and interactions;
2. To develop awareness of the dynamics within human societies or groups and the interactions among them, to recognize and analyze change and continuity over time in any setting;
3. to cultivate an understanding of gender, ethnic, and cultural diversity by exploring the past lives of societies around the world as well as the struggles of minorities in the United States;
4. To learn about the different approaches that historians may adopt and the different questions they may ask about a subject – e.g., cultural, economic, intellectual, political, and social;
5. To cultivate awareness of their own perspectives on the world and to reflect on their own societies and their roles within them, in order to develop a richer understanding of the world they live in.
Students should be able to:
1. Synthesize an array of discrete data into a coherent presentation that advances and defends an argument by learning
a. how to develop research strategies that use library, bibliographic, electronic, and other resources;
b. how to evaluate and make use of primary sources (such as written, oral, and material artifacts of the past), including analysis of their perspective, argument, authorship, and audience;
2. Recognize how perspective influences use of sources and interpretations of the past, to acknowledge the limitations of sources and the ever changing nature of historical interpretation;
3. Situate in writing and orally one’s own research in an ongoing conversation with other historians about the past and its meanings.
The History Department measures student achieve in the following ways:
1. Senior exercise: The senior exercise includes a revised and expanded version of the senior seminar paper, an essay explaining the revision process, and an oral interview that invites the student to integrate the themes of their field of study with their senior research paper.
2. Senior exercise assessment checklist: This checklist is completed by faculty for each portfolio evaluated, reviewed by the department every spring to assess trends.
3. Honors program & oral examinations: The Honors program measures progress & success achieved by the best students;
4. Practice & Theory Seminar: This advanced seminar is required of all majors. It measures progress made by majors toward fulfilling the mission goals encompassed by the senior seminar and exercise.
5. Periodic survey of current and alumni majors: These surveys yields significant data on how majors assess the skills they learned at Kenyon once they enter the working world.
6. Annual Senior Research Conference: All senior majors present short talks or summaries of their senior research projects in panels organized by broadly related themes to an audience of peers, faculty mentors, and friends.
Each year the department meets to assess the senior exercise, the Practice and Theory of History course, the Senior Seminar, the senior research conference and any curricular issues the faculty believes warrants their attention. We discuss assignments and student work over the course of the year to determine whether these assignments are achieving the results we desire. A key part of this discussion is the senior exercise assessment checklist, which identifies student strengths and weaknesses. Based on the results of this checklists and our discussions we devise strategies to improve student performance.