“You’re studying what?” Why it’s important to study history

“You’re studying what?” Why it’s important to study history

By Kendall Hurley

Within my first year at Pacific Lutheran, I declared as a history major. The decision was the easiest one I made in my time here. I fell in love with the study of history at age seven, when I discovered the wide and incredible world of historical novels. I quickly came to realize that these books were different from the fiction books my mother read to me at bedtime, these tomes told real stories.With four years of studying history under my belt, I can fully understand the time and skill it takes to put together one of those books that I devoured as a child.

History is important. The study of history is important. It is relevant, not only in my life but in the lives of everyone. History encompasses the story of humankind, our culture, languages and traditions. Without knowing our past, we will never be prepared for the future. The role of the historian is to recognize patterns in the past and analyze them to help us in the present, for the future. Their role takes time to study, takes time to find and understand the complexities behind human behavior. Historians are blessed with the ability to see different perspectives were someone else would not.

In my time as an undergraduate, I have come across many people who never cease to ask why I want to become a historian. History, along with the study of languages, literature, philosophy, psychology, and other areas, are often viewed as a “soft science.” This insinuates that historians do not contribute as much as “hard scientists” do to the world, people such as engineers, doctors, surgeons, chemists.

History students learn critical research and thinking skills, how to write eloquently and concisely, how to put together evidence and find a solution, and think about the world in a non-linear way. Many undergraduates who receive their bachelors’ degree in history go on to become very successful, as businesspeople, lawyers, CEOs, politicians, and educators. There are a variety of options out there for a history major. The world needs historians, it needs people who are trained to think in this way about the past in order to create the future.

Whether or not I’ll ever write a book like the ones I read as a child, my time spent studying history is the biggest part of my experience at PLU. It is a decision I will never regret, as I believe it has equipped me with invaluable skills.

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