History

History at Asbury University

The discipline of history untangles the deep complexities of human behavior and social arrangements.  In its explanatory dimensions, it tries to understand change over time, context, causality, and contingency.  In its moral dimension, it seeks to promote empathy.  Trying to understand unfamiliar practices and beliefs from the past offers opportunities to practice the Christian virtues of love, hospitality, and compassion for neighbors.  In its professional dimension, the history major trains students in marketable skills such as effective oral and written communication, incisive analytical reasoning, dynamic narrative-telling, penetrating textual analysis, and persistent research.  The Department offers extensive opportunities for history students to practice primary research; to do internships with the Kentucky Historical Society, Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts; and to participate in Phi Alpha Theta, the history honors society.

We value history because it is a beautiful way to understand human nature--a virtue that it shares with literature and art. We value history because it is a story, and a story is a compelling and reliable way to understand any development.

By studying history, we can begin to see what came before, what was going on at the same time, and what finally happened, or is likely to happen in the future, regarding any event or idea in which we are interested. History teaches the student how to evaluate evidence, to understand the logic of cause-and-effect and the complex way in which events and ideas develop through time. History is interesting in itself because it is about people.  It is reliable because it is based upon careful evaluation of the best available evidence.  It is useful because it conveys knowledge about culture and society.

In addition to the traditional objectives of Asbury history majors over many years—education, law and the ministry—the field of history prepares the student for a surprisingly wide variety of occupations. Our history graduates over the years include a state governor, speaker of a state legislature, federal and state judges, diplomats, business executives, military officers, educators, pastors, and lawyers.

-- Professor Burnam Reynolds, Director of History Program