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The most important questions in a history classroom at Seattle University are “how” and “why.”

Equipped with these two questions, our students analyze the past in order to understand the present.

Our courses give students the theoretical, methodological, and research skills necessary to seek answers to the questions that matter today. We help students develop nuanced responses that are attuned to the intersections of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, ability, religious affiliation, time period, and geographic location. The department’s emphasis on historiography—studying the existing histories of a subject—is especially unique in undergraduate curricula. We teach students how to analyze a range of primary sources—myths, archeology, architecture, novels, poetry, paintings, photographs, diary entries, census data, treaties, and cartoons—for audience, message, and bias. Studying history prepares students to navigate a complex world.

Award-winning faculty teach courses in medieval and modern European, ancient Mediterranean, and U.S., Asian, Latin American, Caribbean, African, and Middle Eastern history. Women and gender history, global history, and the history of the African diaspora are some of the departmental strengths. Members of the department have been awarded Fulbrights and other prestigious fellowships to support their research, and they bring this research acumen to the research seminars and independent studies they direct.

Our Degrees

Examples of History Classes

HIST 3150-01 Europe, 1914-1945

This course will examine the global developments and impacts of the wars that shattered the world in the first half of the twentieth century. It will examine the experiences of these conflicts both through the strategies of the leaders and the experiences of the men and women who served in the trenches and factories. It will consider how new scholarship is challenging us to rethink old understandings of their causes and consequences.

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HIST 3910-01/WGST 3910 Writing Women’s Lives/HIST 4900

This course, cross-listed with WGST 4800 and HIST 4900, is a study of how contemporary authors write biographies that focus on women, gender, and sexuality. This course is inspired by a statement by English literature professor Caroline Heilbrun, who observed that “power consists to a large extent in deciding what stories will be told.” Our subjects will include a range of subjects, both well known and not-yet-well-known—Black civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer, a medieval French author, and a Black American family told through a keepsake. But the power of the author is more than "what stories": it is deciding what genre to use (fiction, non-fiction), what sources to use (letters, objects, diaries, ephemera), and whether to give voice to the subject or not. And it is informed by a host of questions: Why this woman and not another? How do we discuss the intimate and personal aspects of a woman's life? How do we write about gender and sexuality? Do we focus on the public or the private, or both? What are the ethics of writing biography? We will take up these questions, and more, by focusing on a few subjects we will focus on how their lives are. Finally, we will look at how biography differs from memoir in terms of what is revealed and what is kept private.

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HIST 4910-01 Great Debates in African-American History: Research Seminar

We examine crucial debates in African American history in the aftermath of the era of Reconstruction (1865-1877). Was the Reconstruction a success? Why the glut of narratives of the proverbial Race Men at the dawn of African Americans’ entry into the American body politic and not enough interrogation of the equally vital Race Women? Do we measure progress via the advancement of individual agency and subjectivity or community advancement? Is it through the embrace of European modern cultures or the emphasis and development of African civilizations and contributions to the idea of American exceptionalism, or the mastery of the lessons from world history and civilizations? What are the best measures towards the achievement of Racial Uplift in a very hostile environment rife with violence, psychological terror and antimodernist and anti-humanist attitudes towards people of African descent? These debates continue to impact not just the African American and Black community but the entire nation and increasingly the rest of the world, especially, the Black World. Through these debates we will not only learn much about the major figures and questions of the time, we will also grapple with questions of race, justice, equity, fairness and cultural activism, including jazz modernism, that impact each of us as individuals-and all of us as a nation.

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UCOR 1400-01 Human Rights in Latin America

This Module I core seminar will focus on one of the major problems afflicting the modern world – the widespread violation of human rights – in the context of Latin America. What are human rights? What are the dimensions of human rights abuses in Latin America? What are the various factors behind the observance and nonobservance of human rights in the region? Who are the different actors involved in denying and defending human rights in Latin America?

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UCOR 1400-02/03/04 Great War as Global Conflict

This course examines the global dimensions and impact of the First World War, from the perspectives of Asians and Africans as well as Europeans, civilians as well as soldiers, women as well as men, and home fronts as well as military fronts. In addition to the well-known stories of military strategy and the technology of warfare, it offers new perspectives on the interaction of diverse peoples and cultures in the early twentieth century.

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UCOR 3400-01 Empire and Afro- Utopia

This course focuses on empire and Afro-utopian narratives of freedom and development in the Black Diaspora. We will study how institutions and legacies of the modern Atlantic slave trade and colonialism have been challenged, over the centuries, by counter-narratives from African indigenous, premodern, and modern perspectives inspiring utopian visions of an alternative and better future.

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UCOR 3600-02 Crime and Punishment: Modern Age

This UCOR 3600 examines social science and global challenges through the lens of punishment in modern society. This is the UCOR’s upper-level social science course for majors who are not in the social sciences.

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Clio Speaks: History Today

Trip to Nepal: Dr. Tom Taylor

In October my wife Laurie and I completed a magical trip to Nepal, visiting the Kathmandu Valley and then trekking in the mountainous Khumbu region. Beyond the beauty of the mountains and the hospitality of the people the trip offered many opportunities to think about how the stories of this region illuminate the larger themes in world history that I emphasize in my classes: to note a few.
Nov 22, 2023

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My Refugee Ancestors: Dr. Heath A. Spencer

Two years ago, my wife and I became Mennonites (Anabaptist Christians), and my mother began to share some new stories. One of those stories was about a Swiss ancestor who had been driven into exile for refusing to do military service. Beyond those few facts, my mother didn’t have much information, but she knew there was a Wikipedia page about him, so we looked him up. His name was Christian L. Stauffer, and he was an Anabaptist preacher from the village of Eggiwil in the Emmental region, about twenty miles from the city of Bern. The Wikipedia page mentions that he was exiled in the fall of 1671 and spent the last months of his life in Dirmstein, Germany.
Oct 30, 2023

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“Help Us! We have a baby on board!"

Dr. Tom Taylor. In Fall 2022 I taught "Global Studies" for Semester at Sea, an experiential university program that combines classes on ship with travel opportunities in eleven ports. Three days out of Spain, I was planning on giving an introductory lecture for my class on the Mediterranean Sea migration crisis. As I was wrestling with how to humanize this story for the diverse population of 450 students and numerous adult travelers that were part of the Fall voyage, I heard a student call out from the aft deck, “I think I saw something. I think it was a flare.”
Jan 17, 2023

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History is OUR Story Too

Dr. Tom Taylor. As a social historian I believe strongly that history is OUR story; it is not just the story of elites and the powerful but the story of our lives, the lives of our family and friends. It is the story the common, even the mundane because it is often in those experiences of the ordinary that we often find the true insights into the extraordinary events of human history. I had the opportunity to put this to practice this past fall when I wrote an article, The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man: Jan Kozlowski and the Russian Revolution. It has just come out on World History Connected.
Mar 8, 2021

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What's happening in the History Department?



  • H. Hazel Hahn, PhD


  • Melissa Poquiz

    Administrative Assistant

Phi Alpha Theta

An active group of Seattle U students participate the national history honor society, including a highly popular film series, coffeehouse discussions, a brown-bag lunch seminar, and student- led panel discussions. Recent SU history students have won national awards for research papers and conference presentations, and received Phi Alpha Theta graduate student fellowships. Contact Dr. Tom Taylor by email.

Public History Intern Program

Majors can earn course credits, under professional supervision, at public history agencies in the Seattle area, including museums, historical societies, archives, and more. Interns often find the experience helps them understand history from a perspective different from that gained in the classroom. For some, the internship has led to employment in the field. Contact Dr. Henry Kamerling by email.

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Our video offers more info on the internship program.

Scholarly Excellence

Go behind the scenes with some of Seattle U's most acclaimed faculty members.

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Videos by Eric Becker.

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