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.
History majors and alumni have been awarded competitive research fellowships to pursue independent research at local and national archives. Each year our students present their original research at the Phi Alpha Theta Northwest Regional Conference.
Our faculty cultivate relationships with local organizations such as the Seattle Art Museum, Northwest African American Museum, the Central District Forum for Arts & Ideas, Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, Seattle International Film Festival, Northwest Film Forum, and the Seattle Public Library to connect what is learned in the history classroom with the wider Seattle community. Current students have pursued internships with local and international organizations, such as the Seattle Holocaust Center for Humanity, the Seattle branch of the ACLU, Starbucks, and the City of Seattle.
A history degree signals an independent thinker. Our graduates have the critical thinking, analysis, and writing skills necessary to excel in the workplace and the wider world. Our program’s emphasis on methodology and historiography prepares students for continued academic and professional success, including in the tech world. Many graduates have gone on to successful careers as teachers, lawyers, civil servants, museum curators, professors, and researchers.
After a period of collective reading and discussion each student will work on an individual research project and write a paper. We’re using “culture” here broadly in the sense of the production of meaning1, but we’re particularly interested in tangible and visible forms of culture. Material culture such as textile, tiles, furniture, photographs and other forms of print culture, cuisine, fashion, film, sports, games, gardens, architectural styles and urban planning are all manifestations of culture, as much as forms of “high culture” such as paintings, classical music and literary works. We will be focusing on patterns of exchange—or cross-cultural influence—through trade, colonialism, missionary work, collecting, travelers’ observations and so on either within Europe or between Europe and Asia (Asia is broadly defined here to include “East Asia,” “Southeast Asia,” “South Asia,” “the Middle East,” “Central Asia” etc.), although students could potentially choose to focus on another continent.
Dr. Nu-Anh Tran. “Please come and teach us, professor. I love to learn!” As the student said this to me, her eyes beamed from under her headscarf.
That was the line that convinced me to uproot my life and move halfway around the world. It was supposed to be my last year of graduate school, and the academic job market had tanked in the wake of the Great Recession. I sent out a slew of applications, including to several schools in Asia. One of the offers I received was from an international women’s university. The school provided an English-language liberal arts education to underprivileged women from across Asia. I admired the mission of the university, which had been founded just a few years earlier. But was I ready to move to a country that I had never visited?
Dec 16, 2020
By Dr. Hazel Hahn. During this period of the Coronavirus pandemic, I have been staying with my parents in Old Tappan, New Jersey, working really remotely, 2,900 miles away from Seattle. My parents have been living in this area for the last forty years, whereas after high school I have been mostly away and visiting several times a year.
Apr 29, 2020
By Dr. Henry Kamerling. As Election Night November 5th came and went, most of the focus was on big Democratic and progressive victories on the east coast. Out here on the west coast, however, there were a few key local races that have gone largely unnoticed and/or undiscussed.
Nov 13, 2019
Receives 2020 Outstanding Teaching Award
"Cross-Cultural Exchange and the Colonial Imaginary: Global Encounters via Southeast Asia"
“Royal and Elite Households in Medieval and Early Modern Europe: More than Just a Castle”
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.
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.