The St.F.X. history department offers a wide range of courses, from introductory Western Civilization or Global History Since 1300 to advanced courses in the history of Canada, Europe, China, Latin America and the United States. You may choose major, double major, advanced major, joint advanced major, honours or honours with subsidiary degrees in our department. You are also free to take courses from the department as electives while pursuing a degree in other disciplines.
The program offered by the department attempts to provide breadth while at the same time permitting you the opportunity to achieve some chosen specialization. In whatever courses you choose, we would like you to gain a solid idea of what happened in the past, why it happened, and what was its significance. We also want you to see the different ways the past can be understood. Our program encourages skills in analytical and critical thinking. As well, it teaches you to express your findings effectively, both orally and in writing. Since your birth, the study of history has changed markedly. There are new questions being asked, and new methods being used to answer these questions. The emphasis, for example, upon social and cultural history has increased and the study of women in history has blossomed. Topics such as sports history, environmental history, the history of medicine and the history of sexuality have become legitimate fields of study. Whatever interests you, it has a history, and that history probably can be found in one of the courses offered at St.F.X.
History Courses and Choices
The department offers two introductory courses: Western Civilization and Global History. The former traces the development of western ideas and institutions from ancient to modern times, while the latter offers a thematic exploration of topics in global history from 1300 to the present. They both serve as a foundation for further studies in history and they are useful as a backdrop for most other courses and disciplines. The growth and changes that occur over time within literature and the arts, science and society, philosophy, politics and commerce can be better understood with a knowledge of the world in which these changes took place.
In the second year, the student selects one among three areas of concentration: Canadian History, European History or American/Latin American/Asian History. Henceforth the student enrolls in courses more closely related to that area of concentration, while still striving for balance. Second and third year courses by their nature have more focus. They encompass more defined areas of history. The preponderance of the department's courses are offered at this level, a wide variety of courses from national histories to histories defined by time, medieval to modern. There are also courses at this level developed around particular aspects of history, whether cultural history, social history, women's history or imperial and colonial history.
The fourth year courses are for the most part seminars, where topics are treated in even greater depth, with less emphasis on narrative and lecture, more emphasis on discussion, where students are encouraged to weigh not only pertinent issues of the past but also the historians who wrote on those issues, and to shape their own synthesis and understanding.
History and Your Future
History can be a highly addictive discipline, and some of you will want to go on to graduate schools and become professors yourselves, or go on for Education to teach history in public schools. Graduates also use their skills to work in museums, in libraries and archives, in government, as journalists and as lawyers, in business, in almost any occupation that requires the ability to synthesize and analyze varied facts and ideas, to draw conclusions from this analysis, and to communicate those conclusions intelligently and clearly. Studying history provides you with these fundamental skills, and they will be a major benefit to you throughout life.
George Santayana once wrote, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." The statement seems even more relevant today, in a world characterized by rapid change. The study of history provides not only knowledge of the past, but a better understanding of the present. And without a knowledge of history, we lose a major component of the tools to comprehend who we are and what it means to be human.
"St. F.X. has a fantastic history program. The classes are interesting; the professors welcome student input and opinions and they are available at any time to discuss issues. The program not only explains historical events, it makes history come to life. The profs also challenge students to think for themselves about how history has unfolded; hence the classes are fascinating interchanges of ideas between students and professors. I thoroughly enjoyed them." — Sharon Stewart (Class of 1996)
"From the Honours program to the elective schedule the History program and the faculty behind it represent an excellent, thoughtful introduction to the world of history. The courses cover a surprisingly broad range of topics with a satisfying analysis of them and an effort to weave the topics into a "holistic pattern". The profs effectively nurture the gifts of critical thought and value an open discursive approach. It's a good foundation program." — Justin Sharp (Class of 1996)