HISTORY | To Know Is to Grow


To understand the present, it is important to analyze and interpret the past. Our history students gain experience through directed research, oral history, museum and archival fieldwork, and internships. They learn hands-on in the heart of Kansas, where a rich history of Westward expansion has shaped the land. As the oldest university in Kansas, dating back to 1858, Baker University is the perfect place to study history. The curriculum balances European, non-Western, and American history.

A history degree is a great stepping stone for many graduate degrees, from law school to more in-depth historical studies. Our students learn all the skills necessary to be a historian, from writing and public speaking skills to the implementation of critical thinking.

RESEARCH AWARD WINNERS

Our students, who learn the essential skills of effective writing and critical thinking, routinely win top awards at the Missouri Valley History Conference. A Baker student has won the best undergraduate paper three times in the past five years. By presenting their research to an audience, fielding questions, and receiving feedback from professors from other schools, students gain confidence and professionalism.

PREPARE FOR LAW SCHOOL

Baker prepares students for law school with our prelaw interdisciplinary minor. Students work with a prelaw advisor to create a course of study that prepares them for law school. The advisor also helps find internship opportunities. Ninety-five percent of our prelaw students are accepted into their first- or second-choice law school.

A WELL-ROUNDED DEGREE

Our history majors are taught more than just the facts—they’re taught to think critically about what they learn and apply it in their everyday lives. And often, they excel among their peers in written and oral communication and critical thinking skills. Through a wide range of course options and learning objectives, our students graduate ready for whatever comes next, whether it’s graduate school, becoming an educator, or anything else.

EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING

Whether it’s reenacting famous battles on campus to understand military strategies, re-creating segregated public facilities to understand the consequences of segregation, or studying abroad to learn and become familiar with other languages, cultures, and history, our students have a multitude of experiential learning opportunities to choose from.

LEARN IN A HISTORICALLY RICH ENVIRONMENT

We believe that to develop the necessary skills of a historian, one must tackle mystery head on, and we are dedicated to providing that opportunity in new and innovative ways. Students studying history at Baker are surrounded by not only exemplary faculty, but also by history itself.

Baldwin City and the surrounding area harbor sites with considerable historical significance, including Civil War battlefields and other remnants of the Westward expansion. As Kansas’ first university, Baker has played a role in the state’s inception and development for more than 150 years. On campus, use of the university archives, the Old Castle museum, and the Quayle Bible Collection draw students into the process of historical primary research and provide interesting alternatives to the usual way of teaching methods courses.

MICHELLE | History and Psychology Major, Class of 2017

While studying at Baker, Michelle has had the opportunity to win awards academically and athletically. Michelle, a member of the BU Spirit Squad, won Best Undergraduate Paper at the 59th Annual Missouri Valley History Conference. With such a wide gap between her two majors, Michelle was grateful that her professors worked collaboratively to make them mesh—even when she was studying abroad at Harlaxton in Grantham, England.

CAREERS

Our history grads serve in fields such as archival management, museum administration, teaching, and law, work in the national park system and work in research positions in government agencies and the private sector. Many of our students continue their studies at graduate schools across the nation and internationally:

  • Yale University
  • University of Oxford
  • University of Edinburgh
  • Duke University Law School
  • Georgetown University Law School
  • University of St. Andrews in Scotland

%

of graduates are employed full time or enrolled in graduate school within six months of receiving their diploma.

Course Descriptions

R: course can be repeated for credit; P/NC: course graded on a pass/no credit basis

Courses required for these programs are listed in the current catalog.

HI 127 – History of the United States to 1877

This course surveys the history of colonial America and the United States to the end of the Grant administration, paying particular attention to the socioeconomic, ethnic, cultural, political, and ideological diversity of the American people. (3 credit hours)

HI 128 – History of the United States since 1877

This course surveys the history of the United States from the Hayes administration to the present, paying particular attention to the socioeconomic, ethnic, cultural, political, and ideological diversity of the American people. (3 credit hours)

HI 140 – World Civilizations I: From Hearth to Empire, Prehistory to 300 BCE

A comparative study of world history from the migratory communities of the Neolithic Era to the development of regional empires, this course will emphasize significant technological developments and their impact on ancient civilizations. What civilization means and what role technology played in the creation of the world’s first major regional and cultural zones are the major themes of the course. Note: HI 140 is not a prerequisite for HI 141, 142, or 143. These four introductory courses are equivalent in level and satisfy the same major requirements. (3 credit hours)

HI 141 – World Civilizations II: The Development of Transcontinental Exchange, 300 BCE-1500 CE

Continuing with the role of technology in human history, this course focuses on the development of systems of contact and exchange between the world’s major regional civilizations. Of primary importance are the Silk Road and the Indian Ocean Trade Network, both of which contributed significantly to the spread and exchange of goods, technologies, and cultural concepts. This course will close with the reconnection of Europe to this system. (See note after HI 140.) (3 credit hours)

HI 142 – World Civilizations III: Western Imperialism and Reaction, 1500-1870

This course addresses the violent and meaningful expansion of Europeans throughout the globe and the responses of non-Europeans to that expansion. From Columbus to British imperial supremacy and the era of New Imperialism, the impact of European expansion will be assessed from a global perspective. (See note after HI 140.) (3 credit hours)

HI 143 – World Civilizations IV: The Rise of Globalism, 1870 to the Present

From great strides in medical science to the Nazi Reich’s industry of death to the World Wide Web, this course examines the steady application of technology to the essential spheres of human existence. Of particular interest is the relationship between technology and human culture. Relying on comparative methods of study, students will examine the significant achievements of the world’s most recent history to discover how societies have responded and developed as a result of an ever-expanding world system. (See note after HI 140.) (3 credit hours)

HI 225 – Hitler and Nazi Germany: A Case Study in Totalitarianism

This course is designed to familiarize students with the Nazi period and its major figures and political structures for the years 1933-1945. Through the medium of film, literature, and political history, the course will be roughly divided into two parts: for the first several weeks, we will trace the rise of Russian Communism, Italian Fascism, and the National Socialists in Germany from the period of 1900 to the time of Hitler’s ascension to the Chancellorship in 1933. The second (and much lengthier) part of the course focuses on the 1930s-1945, and is specifically concerned with the National Socialists and Adolf Hitler: their social programs, expansionist ambitions, the national pogrom against Jews (and homosexuals, gypsies, and other “enemies” internal and external), and the war itself. (Cross-listed as PS 225.) (3 credit hours)

HI 226 – Laboratory Course in Historical Method

This course provides practical experience in using the techniques of historical research and writing a research paper based upon primary sources. Prerequisite: Three credit hours of history. (3 credit hours)

HI 232 – History of Mexico

This course surveys the history of Mexico from its first peoples through the 20th century. The course will offer various interpretations of the major themes and developments in Mexican history. A primary goal of the course is to examine Mexico from the perspective of the Mexican people, paying particular attention to their contributions, both past and present, toward shaping Mexico throughout its history. (3 credit hours)

HI 261 – History of the American West: A Legacy of Conquest and Resistance

This course will examine the history of the Trans-Mississippi West, focusing on the process of conquest, settlement, and resistance which defined this region. Students will examine the human-dominated ecosystems of the many Native American civilizations present in the region before the coming of Euro-Americans, the vanquishing of those groups by the Euro-American aggressors, the acts of resistance to this aggression during this period, and the impact of this conquest on natural resources within this region. Prerequisite: HI 127 or 128. (3 credit hours)

HI 297 – Riots, Rebellion, and Revolts: A History of Social Conflict in the Eastern Hemisphere

This course is part of a two-course sequence addressing the history of social conflict. The sequence is also designed to bridge and promote the mission of the department by emphasizing the issues relating to social justice, crime and punishment, the role of religion, the role of technology in human society, and the rhetorical systems of power and gender. As an advanced survey, the course objectives emphasize the development of learning-centered engagement through research and discussion. (3 credit hours)

HI 298 – Riots, Rebellion, and Revolts: A History of Social Conflict in the Western Hemisphere

This course is part of a two-course sequence addressing the history of social conflict. Organized as a series of cases studies, we will examine that various factors that have produced social conflict from antiquity to the modern age. Several factors will be examined, including social disproportion, economic disparity, lines of communication, religious or philosophical belief, technology, and the environment. Additionally, we will examine the role of violence in social conflict. Was it a necessary element? As Nigerian author Chinua Achebe wrote, “When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.” (3 credit hours)

HI 326 – Eastern European/Soviet History and Politics

Economic, political, and social changes in the U.S.S.R. and its successor states are studied in this course. Other countries in Eastern Europe are examined in comparison. (Cross-listed as PS 326.) (3 credit hours)

HI 328 – History of Christianity

This course on the history of Christianity will examine its early development until the fall of Constantinople in 1453. Students will analyze the history and traditions of Christianity and will have the option to further explore issues such as: the divinity of Jesus, heresy, gender and sexuality in Christianity, and early theologians. This course will have several required readings where students will engage with the texts written by early Christians. (Cross-listed as RE 328.) (3 credit hours)

HI 329 – Modern Christianity

The purpose of this course is to examine the Protestant Reformation, the response by the Catholic Church, and its spread throughout the world. As a result, this class will focus on several major Christian thinkers and theologians as well as various historical events. The class will end with a discussion of Christianity in the Americas and how it has developed and changed as a result of its new context. This will include the creation of new movements such as Mormonism, the Seventh Day Adventist Church, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses. (Cross-listed as RE 329.) (3 credit hours)

HI 333 – American Social and Intellectual History

This course explores shifts and transformations within American society, the impact of ideas, and the religious experience. Special attention will be given to reform movements and the nature of class conflict. (3 credit hours)

HI 334 – American Labor History

This course deals with the impact of transportation, agriculture, labor, industry, and technology on American history. The economic effects of war, regional integration, national policy, and international affairs are also explored. (3 credit hours)

HI 335 – American Gender and Minority Issues

This course focuses on experiences of women and minority groups as they interact within their distinctive group as well as with one another, men, and various formal and informal social institutions in American history. (Cross-listed as PS 335.) (3 credit hours)

HI 344 – Outside of the Classroom: Inquiries in Public History

The purpose of this course is to examine the nature of public history, its impact on the community, and the work of professionally trained historians who are employed in public history in local and regional communities through inquiry-based learning experiences at public institutions. (3 credit hours)

HI 346 – History of Kansas: Its Peoples and Cultures

This course is formulated as a reading and discussion seminar, focusing on the various groups who have resided in Kansas and their impact on the region and its history. Students will examine major themes, events, and trends of the Kansas past through primary and secondary sources. These sources offer a multitude of interpretations that shed light on the contributions and views of diverse Kansans over time. The class will analyze both their actions and the insights afforded by numerous historians to create a meaningful reconstruction of the past. Prerequisite: One history course. (3 credit hours)

HI 348 – Social and Cultural Revolutions in the 1960s

This course will examine the complex history of the United States preceding, during, and following the 1960s. Through readings, music, and film, the class will discuss the many events and movements that inflamed the passions of the sixties and seek to understand their legacy today, including a focus on the social, political, and cultural forces at work during this period. Prerequisite: One history course. (3 credit hours)

HI 349 – Mexico: Ancients, Warriors, and Revolutionaries

This course examines the history of Mexico from its first peoples through the Mexican Revolution. The course will offer various interpretations of the major themes and developments during this period in Mexican history. Due to the complexity of Mexican history a primary objective is to focus on Mexico from its original inhabitants through nationhood rather than survey the entire history of the country. Mexico is not a singular homogenous entity: rather, there exist many peoples who come with various ideas, values, and belief systems. The course will pay particular attention to the cultural contributions of the Mexican people of the past and their part in shaping Mexico. (3 credit hours)

HI 351 – African Civilizations to 1870

Arranged as a series of case studies, this course will explore several of Africa’s important civilizations before 1800 CE. Students will examine the civilizations of ancient Nubia, the empires of Sudan, ancient Axum, and Ethiopia, the metropolis of Benin, and the migration of the Bantu peoples. Through careful consideration of several major aspects of each civilization (poetry, art forms, political institutions, and social organization), students will attempt to understand the common threads and enormous diversity of Africa’s civilizations. (3 credit hours)

HI 355 – Mesopotamian History and Religion

The purpose of this course is twofold: 1) for students to examine the history of Mesopotamia, and 2) to examine the religious development that resulted from that history. The course will focus on various different religious texts and mythologies that students will critically analyze. Since the course will cover 2000 years of history, only the most important and religiously relevant issues will be highlighted. (Cross-listed as RE 355.) (3 credit hours)

HI 362 – Social Conquest of the American West

This course will examine the history of the Trans-Mississippi West, focusing on the process of conquest, settlement, and resistance which defined this region and its peoples. (3 credit hours)

HI 363 – Europe in the Early Middle Ages, 300-1000 CE

This course will examine the history of Europe and the Mediterranean Basin from the breakup of the Roman Empire to the transition to the High Middle Ages. This course will examine the political, economic, social, and cultural development of the three successor civilizations of classical Greece and Rome: Byzantium, Islam, and Western Christendom, with particular emphasis on the latter. This course will examine how these civilizations arose and interacted in both peace and war. Among the many possible historical problems available, this course will investigate the following: the end of the ancient world; the expansion of Christianity; the era of migrations (the Völkerwanderung); the emergence of Germanic successor kingdoms; the Carolingian Empire; the Vikings; the division between northern, southern, and eastern Europe; the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire and its civilization; and the rise of Islam and its civilization. (3 credit hours)

HI 364 – American Indian History

This course will introduce students to the field of American Indian history, some of the many communities and cultures of Native North America, and some of the major problems in the field. A solid grounding in U.S. history is a prerequisite for this class. (3 credit hours)

HI 365 – The Mediterranean in the Middle Ages, 1000-1500 CE

This course examines the principal historical questions arising from the Crusading era and its impact on the Mediterranean world, particularly with respect to the Commercial Revolution (ca. 1000-1500 CE). Among the topics considered will be the Crusades themselves (definitions, origins, sequence, and consequences), and how they affected the Byzantine Empire, the Islamic States of Western Asia and North Africa, and European society. (Cross-listed as RE 365.) (3 credit hours)

HI 367 – Europe in the Middle Ages, 1000-1500 CE

This course explores the principal historical questions concerning the growth of European civilization during the High and Late Middle Ages, the formative period during which Western Civilization took shape. The transition from the Early Medieval to High Medieval Era was characterized by the dramatic acceleration of all aspects of European economy and society. Among the topics considered will be the emergence of feudalism and manorialism, development of the institution of the Catholic Church and the Papacy, the Church’s interactions with secular powers, the development of cities and new networks of trade, the crises of the later Middle Ages, and the transition into the Early Modern world. (3 credit hours)

HI 371 – Europe in the Early Modern Era, 1450-1688

This course is devoted to the history of Europe from 1450 to 1688: that is, the period from the spread of Renaissance culture throughout Europe to the Glorious Revolution in England. Within this era we will explore the Renaissance, Northern Humanism, the Reformation, European exploration, the Scientific Revolution, the religious wars of the 17th century, and the growth of constitutional government. Lecture topics will include significant developments in the realm of politics, society, and culture, with special lectures on military, religious, and women’s history. Historical developments in this period were dramatic, even radical. The course then will stress those changes and how they affected both the Europeans who shaped them and who were affected by them. (3 credit hours)

HI 373 – From Kingdom to Nation State: European History, 1689-1850

This course focuses on events from 1689 to 1850, the era of the great political, economic, and intellectual revolutions that transformed Europe from a continent dominated by monarchs to one governed through territorial nation states. The course will examine the economic and intellectual developments that fueled the reexamination of monarchy and absolute authority, and how both were challenged through collective political bodies and theories focusing on constitutionalism. Points of focus will include the Louis XIV and the French state, English constitutionalism, the Industrial Revolution, the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, Napoleon, and the Revolutions of 1848. The course will also examine the many revolutionary and often violent developments that define modern Western Civilization. (3 credit hours)

HI 381 – The Era of Global War: European History in a Global Context, 1870-1947

The Era of Global War covers world history from late 19th century to 1945, especially the era encompassing the First and Second World Wars. Students will gain historical perspective on global events and key changes that shaped the first half of the 20th century. Topics include major historical events and global conflicts, including New Imperialism, the roles of science and technology, the Russian Revolution, and important ideologies such as Communism, Fascism, Liberalism, and Nationalism. (3 credit hours)

HI 405 – The Dynasties of Ancient Egypt

Focused on the banks of the Nile, at what would become the crossroads between the Fertile Crescent and the African continent, the dynasties of Egypt established a civilization that remains an enduring source of fascination, wonderment, and controversy. By carefully examining primary source materials and modern scholarship, students can take a first deep plunge into a controversial and spectacular sea in history. Prerequisite: Six credit hours of history courses. (Cross-listed as RE 405.) (3 credit hours)

HI 433 – The Golden Age of Ancient Greece

This course is devoted to understanding the history of the Greek civilization from the Bronze Age to 336 BCE, an era dominated by the city-state Athens, whose imperial aspirations and literary achievements continue to inspire cultural emulation and experimentation. Various factors and forces at work during this era, and an exploration of their relationships in the creation of a unique civilization, will be examined. Prerequisite: Six credit hours of history courses. (3 credit hours)

HI 436 – Senior Thesis in History

Each student shall select a topic that relates to his or her interest and that holds promise for original research and analysis. Ensuing research will require the examination, analysis, and appropriate synthesis of both primary and secondary resources. The study will raise questions of theory and value from which to make predictive and educated assumptions appropriate to the research topic. This research and evaluation exercise will culminate with a seminar paper, formal oral defense, and peer and instructor evaluation. Prerequisite: 21 credit hours of history, including HI 226. (3 credit hours)

HI 437 – Alexander’s Legacy

The conquests of Alexander the Great in Africa and Asia allowed for the dissemination of Greek civilization, but the legacy of Alexander was more than the spread of Greek culture. Where the Greeks settled, their culture mixed with the civilizations of the subject peoples, a process termed the “Hellenistic Synthesis.” Understanding how Alexander’s conquests linked the Mediterranean to central Asia and opened the door to the first “world system” in history is the focus of this course. Prerequisite: Six credit hours of history courses. (3 credit hours)

HI 441 – Rome from Republic to Empire

From the Punic Wars to the Military Anarchy, this course will examine the major political, economic, and social developments from the collapse of the Republic to the crisis of the Principate. Particular emphasis will be placed on the development of Roman society and technology as factors in the dissolution of imperial authority. Prerequisite: Six credit hours of history courses, including HI 226. (3 credit hours)

HI 443 – The World of Late Antiquity

This course covers the period from the emergence of the Roman Dominate to the devastation of the Carolingian and Byzantine Empires in the ninth and tenth centuries CE, an era traditionally titled “The Dark Ages” or “The Early Middle Ages.” Since the 1970s, however, a growing number of scholars have made the case for treating this era as a distinct and vital historical unity: The Late Antique Era. Subsequently, the major theme of this course will be understanding and evaluating the traditional and post-1970 schools of thought. Prerequisite: Six credit hours of history courses. (3 credit hours)

Do you want to teach history and government?
Our history majors are the perfect fit for educators. The history curriculum dovetails seamlessly with the education program, and our faculty is active in the process. Our undergraduate education programs, which license teachers in history and government (6-12), allow students pursuing a degree in education and teacher licensure to work closely with faculty advisors from the School of Education to fulfill the requirements for a degree from Baker University and teacher licensure in Kansas. Candidates are required to complete education course work and the required course work in at least one content area. Learn More >>

Scholarships

The Department of History, Culture, and Society gives these awards with financial prizes to be applied to the following year’s tuition:

  • Mildred Hunt Riddle Departmental Recognition Scholarship for Social Sciences
  • Mildred Hunt Riddle Departmental Recognition Scholarship for Philosophy and Religion
  • Mildred Hunt Riddle Departmental Recognition Scholarship for History
  • Dorothy J. and James F. Hilgenberg Scholarship
  • Gilbert and Martha Jane Lewis Ferguson Scholarship
  • Brune Memorial Scholarship
  • Paul Dick Scholarship
  • Warren E. and Marion Rhodes DeSpain Scholarship in Church Leadership
  • Thomas G. Manson and Frances B. Manson Scholarship

STUDENT LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES

DIALOGOS RESEARCH SYMPOSIUM
Dialogos creates opportunities for the free exchange of ideas among scholars. Students from every part of the academy present original works, in a variety of forms and mediums, and engage with an interdisciplinary community of peers, staff and faculty. The symposium also features a keynote address from a prominent Baker alum. Through open and critical discussion, participants learn from and contribute to the betterment of the whole. At Dialogos, to quote John Wesley, we "think and let think."
Dialogos creates opportunities for the free exchange of ideas among scholars. Students from every part of the academy present original works, in a variety of forms and mediums, and engage with an interdisciplinary community of peers, staff and faculty. The symposium also features a keynote address from a prominent Baker alum. Through open and critical discussion, participants learn from and contribute to the betterment of the whole. At Dialogos, to quote John Wesley, we "think and let think."
BOOK Program
Students are encouraged to participate in the BOOK Program (Baker Organizational Observation for Knowledge) to enhance their internship experiences. The program encourages students to look deeper into organizations by researching the history, mission, structure, products and services, finances and management of the company. At the conclusion of the program, presentations are given in front of a panel of judges who choose the winner of a cash prize.
BOOK Program
Students are encouraged to participate in the BOOK Program (Baker Organizational Observation for Knowledge) to enhance their internship experiences. The program encourages students to look deeper into organizations by researching the history, mission, structure, products and services, finances and management of the company. At the conclusion of the program, presentations are given in front of a panel of judges who choose the winner of a cash prize.

FACULTY

John Richards

Associate Professor of History, Chair of the Dept. of History, Culture, and Society | john.richards@bakerU.edu

B.A., M.A. University of Kansas; ABD Brown University
Expertise: dynastic Egypt, ancient Greece and Rome, early medieval Europe
Office: Parmenter Hall 21 | 785.594.8391

Leonard Ortiz

Associate Professor of History, Susan L. Perry Chair | leonard.ortiz@bakerU.edu

B.A. Santa Clara University, M.A. Stanford University, Ph.D. University of Kansas
Expertise: American west, Native American and 20th century U.S. history
Office: Parmenter Hall 20 | 785.594.8482

CONTACT US

Kris Oehlert, Department Assistant
History, Culture & Society
Office: Parmenter 21A
785.594.7867
kris.oehlert@bakerU.edu