Program Overview

The rise and fall of empires.
Inventions and philosophies that have altered the human experience.
Study the motives and actions that have rippled through the ages and produced the present day.

Truth is at once more strange, more grand, and more wonderful, than fiction. Far from merely memorizing names, dates, and the order of events, the study of history is the study of kings and paupers, men and women, children and soldiers. It is the inquiry into their joys, their sorrows, their triumphs, and their struggles. It investigates what and why they loved, hated, feared, built, plotted, admired, destroyed, and left to posterity.

Students of history are detectives. Facts and events, stories and evidence, come to us from the ages, but the proper context in which to understand all these bits of data easily eludes us. Historians must have the interest and ability to discover as yet unrealized pieces of the puzzle, piece together what happened, and why. Accurate and complete accounts help us better to understand the present condition of humanity, and perhaps to avoid philosophies and systems that have been tried and found sorely lacking.

History majors at Franciscan University learn from world-class historians whose breadth of historical expertise spans from the cradle of civilization to post-modern electoral politics. They ably open up the world of historical inquiry, firmly rooted in the Catholic tradition, recognizing the Incarnation as the central fact of history. Every moment, every movement, and every person studied is seen in that eternal light.

The history major also requires courses in economics and a foreign language, and easily affords students the opportunity to double major.

Enter the history program. Acquire a deep understanding of the world—and humanity’s adventure within it. Be awed by God’s providential activity. And learn how to bring the insights of the ages into today’s consciousness.

Aims of History

History is the study of everything that men and women have ever done. Through careful study, historians identify those things in human civilizations that change, that remain constant, and that have shaped the present. In short, they make us aware of the impact of the past on the present.

Through the study of history, we can appreciate and understand the feelings, beliefs, and insights of those who lived before us. We are freed from the narrow lens of the present and introduced to the broader panorama of mankind. In a particular way, the study of history fulfills Franciscan University’s commitment to fully liberate students from ignorance, prejudice, and false philosophies that impede a discovery of truth that makes one free indeed (see Franciscan University Mission Statement I, B1, Appendix A).

From the Catholic perspective, the Incarnation is the central fact of history. As the great Catholic historian Christopher Dawson wrote, the Catholic view of history is “an interpretation of time in terms of eternity and human events in the light of divine revelation.” Thus, Catholic students of history and historians believe that Jesus Christ gives meaning, significance, purpose, and direction to history; that He constantly works within history; and that He remains present in and through the Church, which He established. At the same time, they believe in man’s free will, in the potential for human progress, and in the moral obligation of every Christian to work vigorously and tirelessly for what Pope Paul VI called the “civilization of love.”

Using History

The study of history trains students to think critically and analytically. In an increasingly volatile job market, this training has proven to be our graduates’ most valuable asset. They are men and women who can bring fresh, critical, and creative insights to their work, who can persuade others by good argument, and who can express themselves clearly and intelligently. The study of history develops these fundamental skills through critical readings of the past, close examinations of historical evidence, and studies in the relations among ideas, social life, culture, and politics.

Students learn that good historians are good storytellers, but even more so, they are skilled in the forensic arts—argument and public debate. The word “history” comes from the Greek history (istwr), a word the Ancient Greeks used to refer to a man who settled civil disputes in the days before courts, lawyers, and judges. Historians are rightly thought of as detectives. To discover the truth of things, they listen to and read various stories of the past, weighing the motives of the parties who write or tell these stories. And, like good detectives, they get behind these accounts in order to bring out a new or forgotten truth. accordingly, the study of history has customarily provided a solid preparation for law, journalism, government service, electoral politics, and similar professions.

Our History Program also prepares History majors for graduate study in history and for teaching history in secondary schools. (See the Education Degree Program section of this catalog for information on secondary certification.)

Academic Catalog

View the History Program on the Undergraduate Catalog

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Alumni Profiles
Department Faculty
Dr. Robert Doyle

Dr. Robert Doyle

Professor

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Dr. Michael Fitzgerald

Dr. Michael S. Fitzgerald

Professor

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Pr. Philip Fitzgibbons

Professor Philip Fitzgibbons

Assistant Professor

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Dr. Kimberly Georgedes

Dr. Kimberly Georgedes

Professor
Department Chair

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Dr. Jeffrey Hass

Dr. Jeffrey Hass

Associate Professor

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Dr. James Matenaer

Dr. James Matenaer

Associate Professor

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Dr. Matthew O'Brien

Dr. Matthew O'Brien

Professor

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