Department of History
Old Horticulture
506 E. Circle Dr
Room 256
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824
Main: 517.355.7500
Fax: 517.353.5599
Email: history [at] msu [dot] edu
Hours: 8:00-5:00 M-F

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2014 Graduate Handbook

I – Program Overview

History, as three recent interpreters have written in a new, compelling book, is a “discipline, a profession, and a career.” (T. Bender, Katz, and C. Palmer, The Education of Historians for the Twenty-First Century. Urbana, Illinois: The University of Illinois Press, 2004. Pp. 4-5.) As a discipline, history has standards of evidence, styles of argumentation, and a literary and narrative dimension that distinguish it from other forms of scholarship. Historians interpret politics and institutions; they study intellectual communities and social dynamics; importantly, they give a voice to those who might otherwise not be accorded one by society. History has been among the most “interdisciplinary” of all the modern disciplines. As a profession, history possesses organized forms of interaction among its practitioners. Historians write for each other and for a public at large; and they are committed, professionally, to styles of written communication and oral interaction that are clear, informative, and ethically sound. At conferences and in classrooms, in government and in museums, historians research and communicate about the past, remembering its lessons to help create a better future. And as a career, history is, and should be, many things: historians work in the academy, creating new knowledge and teaching students at the college and university level; historians teach at the K-12 level of education; historians design and curate exhibits in museums; and historians work for the government, for corporations, and for media outlets, strengthened and empowered by the standards and practices they acquire through rigorous professional training. At Michigan State, we are committed to history in all its modern, multifarious, happily diverse manifestations. We offer exciting and innovative graduate training; and we are looking for graduate students who are ambitious self-starters, and people open to training that is itself open to change and dynamism. Here, through seminars, independent study, and close, guided relationships with faculty mentors, graduate students have the chance to learn, practice, and perfect the disciplinary, professional, and career-oriented aspects related to becoming a historian. We are looking for students who are willing to be active partners in an evolving community; so we expect students to take part in departmental matters – such as visiting lecturers, the graduate community, faculty searches, and so on – beyond the basic course requirements.