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Undergraduate Programs

The underlying purpose of studying history is to help prepare students for life and to promote a life-long love of learning. The basic aim of history is to teach students how to think for themselves, to analyse fairly the works of others and to improve their oral and written powers of expression. History provides a methodology for research and critical thinking which is widely applicable in most professions and walks of life. History is also an ideal discipline to acquaint students with important concepts, events and people. In short, it forms the basis of a sound education. When systematically studied, history promotes a depth of understanding of ourselves and other — it heightens literacy, deepens global understanding, develops numeracy, and enhances our aesthetic and moral awareness.

The Laurier History department offers a well-structured but flexible program designed to assure a breadth and depth of learning that should help students adapt to the rapidly changing modern world. The undergraduate offerings of the history department are organized according to the student's year of study. Each year has its own academic objectives, and each year builds on the preceding year, and advances the student toward the knowledge and skills required for the succeeding year.

Learning Objectives

Laurier History graduates possess:

  • Historical knowledge: A knowledge of the key people, forces and events that caused the present world to emerge out of the past. An understanding of the diversity of human experience in a range of times and places.
  • Fluency in diverse methodologies: The ability to approach and solve problems using a variety of historical methodologies, such as social, political, cultural, economic, gendered, legal and postcolonial history.
  • Research skills: The capacity to identify primary and secondary sources in print, material and digital media. Experience in acquiring data from archival materials, library resources, material artifacts, government documents, newspapers, oral testimonies and works of art.
  • Critical thinking skills: The ability to organize information and distill the important from the trivial; place data and evidence into context; identify, evaluate and assess key arguments; grasp and analyze cause and effect; understand "bias" and perspective.
  • Written and verbal communication skills: A capacity for oral leadership in dialogue and debates, and in individual and team presentations. The ability to express clear written arguments in a verity of modes, including precis, proposals, literature reviews and research essays.
  • Global and cultural literacy: The ability to frame contemporary and historical events in national, comparative and global contexts. Students gain an enhanced understanding of contemporary Canadian and global citizenship through coursework in each of four tracks or themes that traverse time and place: social issues and globalization; peace and war; politics, power and law; and culture, the arts and society.
  • Professional development skills: The ability to set goals; prioritize tasks; organize time; work on multiple projects at once; and meet deadlines. The capacity to work independently but also to collaborate with colleagues on defining and analyzing a specific historical problem. Professional and academic integrity.

The Ancient Studies program examines early world civilizations. Through the study of history, politics, economics, literature, philosophy, religion and art, you will learn how these civilizations laid some of the foundations of today’s world.

Graduates of this program will be well prepared for careers in the law, teaching, the fine arts and business as well as for graduate study in a wide range of disciplines. Individual courses as well as the joint program will be of particular interest to students in English, Languages and Literatures, Political Science, Legal Studies, Philosophy, Religion and Culture, and Business and Economics.

Learning Outcomes

Functional Knowledge

  • Demonstrate knowledge of literature, myth, politics, philosophies and laws of the first civilizations including Egypt, Greece, Rome, China and Mesopotamia.
  • Gain an understanding of how philosophy, culture, history and the context of a time influence present and future culture, society, community relationships and social/political development.
  • Understand and examine the historical/cultural roots of modern social institutions and other cultural phenomena and make recommendations for future planning and development.
  • Research and identify the basis and development of artistic and literary styles.
  • Acquire skills to assess the accuracy of historical information, costume and context, and provide direction and input on the development and use of historical reference and materials.

Collaboration/Teamwork Skills

  • Work effectively as part of a team by identifying your role and contributing, leading, teaching, motivating and/or encouraging others for team success.
  • Oversee, lead and/or contribute to a project including determining goals, planning details, making decisions and completing tasks.
  • Demonstrate professional behaviour and an understanding of individual perspectives and diversity.

Communication Skills

  • Explain and communicate the development of key modern social and cultural changes and developments to others, both verbally and in writing.
  • Probe for information by asking questions and listening, and engage in constructive conversations.
  • Prepare interesting and informative reports and presentations for diverse audiences using current technology.

Problem-Solving Skills

  • Identify and access a wide range of relevant information and resources.
  • Learn, understand and critically interpret information and apply knowledge to new situations.
  • Set priorities, meet deadlines and manage time, data and resources.
  • Make well-reasoned decisions, think creatively, identify and consider all sides of an issue.
  • Analyze and evaluate data to discuss, support and/or question ideas, opinions, reports, theories and proposals.

Travel Courses

The History department’s intersession travel courses are designed to enrich our students’ academic lives by studying history where it was made. In cooperation with Wilfrid Laurier University’s academic partners around the world the History department offers courses in Russia, France, China and Puerto Rico. Possibilities for the future include battle tours in Asia, WWII-themed courses in Europe and a course in Poland focused on the Holocaust.

Some of the past travel courses have been tied to Laurier’s innovative Residence Learning Community (RLC) program. Under this program, incoming students apply to join a community of like-minded classmates in a specific discipline. They live together in residence and often take one or more courses together. For example, members of a recent ‘Pirates’ History RLC took a first-year course on the history of pirates, and then they travelled to Puerto Rico in the spring for a travel course on the Caribbean history.

Most courses begin on Laurier's Waterloo campus with two to three weeks of lectures and readings, followed by two to three weeks of travel that also include a classroom/lecture format. The courses are designed to also appeal to other disciplines, so are not restricted to history majors. You can earn a full credit, and typically the cost includes all transportation, accommodations and meals. Full-time faculty delivers all travel courses and our many academic partnerships allow us to keep the costs down.