Frequently Asked Questions
Why Study History?
Honestly, for many a high school student, history often meant a dry memorization of “facts.” Sure, you were exposed to important ideas and principles, but how relevant and meaningful was it? So, when you arrive at college, history is not the first thing that comes to mind as a major unless you plan to teach it in school. After all, most people go to college to prepare for a career; to receive a vocationally-oriented education. How in the world would history help you there unless you wanted to teach? The answer is: A lot!
How is it relevant?
History is more than a collection of battles, dead politicians, and grand uplifting and morally satisfying events. You examine events, ideas, forces, and conditions that created nations, shaped cultures, moved peoples, generated economies, and established identities. The student of history understands how beliefs and interests influenced diplomacy, exploration, societies and social structures, cultural practices, and how one group of people dealt with another. Not just on the local stage, but in the world arena as well! And not only the good, but the bad too. At its most basic, the study of history helps us understand how and in what way things changed and how the world we live in came to be.
After all, the founding fathers of the United States relied extensively on history in creating the Constitution and government. Nineteenth century writers and religious movements helped inspire the Civil Rights Movement of the 20th century. The ideologies that inspired the American Revolution in addition to the Constitution also were instrumental in creating an American identity. Can you really understand what it means to be an American citizen without knowing your country’s past?
Thus, to understand where we are now, we must understand where we have been.
On a global scale, foreign policy must take into account episodes such as colonization and occupation of other countries. The process of globalization today requires both the business executive as well as the diplomat to understand the culture and history of other peoples and cultures around the world.
So why can’t I just rely on my high school history?
High school lays the foundation for understanding history by teaching key concepts and facts, but university history courses are deep explorations of the conditions and elements that go into the story of history. The student learns not just what happened but why, and is introduced to the different viewpoints and interpretations of those events by people whose experiences and values gave them another understanding. Thus, you are not just dealing with facts, you understand how and why people may differ in their explanation of events. History is complex and being able to recognizing and dissect this complexity is important today in understanding how today’s society operates and the point of view of different groups that compose society.
Teaching materials are not limited to textbooks. Many courses include researching and examining documents such as letters, diaries, maps, and journals. But the study of history can encompass the study of environmental conditions, dress, music, art, and economic circumstances. A history student is as likely to work with the lyrics of a song as the position paper of a diplomat; to inspect an old musket as well as a World War II recruitment poster. Again, that’s because history is not just about great events, but often about the everyday, the commonplace events that influence our lives and actions.
Thus, there are many different types of history: Gender, Political, Military, Social, Legal, Economic, and Cultural to name but a few.
Why Study Philosophy?
[adapted with permission from "Why Study Philosophy?", University of Detroit Mercy Philosophy Department]
Philosophy is one of the best ways of enriching your life, even as it prepares you for life.
Philosophy's critical skills offer the best defense against foolishness and falsehoods.
Philosophy is one of the most practical majors in college.
Why study Anthropology?
What is Anthropology?
The term, “anthropology” comes from the Greek word anthropos meaning “human.” In the broadest and most general sense, anthropology is the study of what it means to be human. Anthropologists approach that study both from a biological perspective in terms of the human species and from a cultural point of view in terms of the learned, shared behaviors that define specific groups of people around the world.
Anthropology is divided into four subfields: biological anthropology, archaeology, linguistic anthropology, and cultural anthropology.
Why study Anthropology?
Within the four subfields, anthropologists study an infinite number of subjects that have to do with being human. The elements that make these studies all anthropological are that they are comparative and holistic. For example, studies of prehistoric ancestors and their food-getting strategies might help us better understand the environmental and health issues we face today.
Anthropology provides a framework for understanding and communicating with people from a variety of backgrounds, which is a critical skill in our world. It also provides the scientific literacy that is necessary for solving the increasingly complex environmental challenges that we face.
What about jobs in Anthropology?
Anthropology provides the foundation for a variety of careers. Anthropologists work in business, research, teaching, advocacy, public service, and museums. Usually a graduate degree is required for these jobs, although with a bachelors’ degree, students can do relief work abroad for NGOs (non-governmental organizations) or intern on research projects.
For additional information, go the American Anthropological Association website:
What is Gender Studies?
Gender Studies works to move beyond the designations of male/female and to understand the ways in which these identities are created on the levels of the individual, the community, the society, and the world. The field explores ways these identities interact with power, sexuality, culture, politics, and economics.
The interdisciplinary Gender Studies Minor offers students a chance to combine study of various fields to achieve a better understanding of concepts of gender, the ideologies surrounding them, and the impact of these ideologies. Outcomes of this minor include the following:
Why do I need a foreign language?
Why study a language? Language learning opens new and exciting opportunities for study, comprehension, and understanding. The greater your proficiency in another language, the more you can learn about other peoples, their history, and culture.
Language becomes a tool of extraordinary versatility for the historian. Being able to communicate in another language means being able to understand more fully the nature of the society in which you are working and more readily access and more accurately assess historical resources and artifacts. The independence to work in multiple languages is an enormously valuable asset for every student of history.
Can I test out of courses?
Yes, you can test out of many courses, however, before you sign up for an exam, please consult with your academic advisor to make sure it is the best course of action for your plan of study and so you know what are the benefits and any potential ramifications. For more on the exams and types of courses, please see visit the UNG Testing Center.