U.S. History No Longer a Requirement for History Majors at George Washington University


From TheCollegeFix.com:

George Washington University recently changed its requirements for history majors, removing previously key courses for the stated purpose of giving students more flexibility.

The department eliminated requirements in U.S., North American and European history, as well as the foreign language requirement. Thus, it is possible that a student can major in history at GWU without taking a survey course on United States history.

The new requirements mandate at least one introductory course, of which American history, World History and European civilization are options. Yet, like at many elite universities, the introductory course requirement may be fulfilled by scoring a 4 or a 5 on the Advanced Placement exams for either U.S. History AP, European History AP or World History AP.

Earlier this year, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni released a report revealing that fewer than one-third of the nation’s leading universities require history majors to take a single course in U.S. history. George Washington University now joins those ranks.

“A democratic republic cannot thrive without well-informed citizens and leaders. Elite colleges and universities in particular let the nation down when the examples they set devalue the study of United States history,” ACTA President Dr. Michael Poliakoff said in a statement announcing the report.

Some scholars dismissed the report’s findings, however, arguing that most students enroll in U.S. history classes regardless of whether it’s required, so handwringing over the lack of the requirement is moot.

GWU History Department Chair Karin Schultheiss, several history professors, and the university spokesman did not respond to repeated requests this month from The College Fixfor comment.

At GWU, history majors must take eight to ten upper level courses: one on a time period before 1750, and three on different regions of the world, including Europe, North America, Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Previously, students were required to take two courses focused on Europe and North America and complete a thesis or capstone project. Though the thesis requirement still exists, students can choose to complete “digital capstone projects” instead.

This change was motivated by a need to “recruit students” and “to better reflect a globalizing world,” according to faculty comments to the George Washington University student newspaper, The Hatchet.

Faced with declining enrollment, from 153 majors in 2011 to 72 in 2015 to 83 in 2016, the history department decided changes were necessary, it reported.

Department chair Schultheiss told the Hatchet “the main gain for students is that they have a great deal more flexibility than they had before, and they can adapt it to whatever their plans are for the future. Whatever they want to do, there’s a way to make the history department work for them.”

The push for enrollment may also have been motivated by a new funding formula for GW’s colleges that began in 2016, the Hatchet reports. Money for each department is now linked to the number of students enrolled in a that major’s classes. Each school will now receive $301 for every undergraduate student in a class, incentivizing majors such as history to offer classes that will be popular.

Faculty said that the new system incentivizes the individual schools to create popular classes to attract students to boost revenue.

The previous funding formula was related to how many students were majoring in a college. But according to Vice Provost for Budget and Finance Rene Stewart O’Neal, that system did not give the fullest picture of how many students were taking classes in a specific school, as many students choose to take courses outside of their major.


3 responses to “U.S. History No Longer a Requirement for History Majors at George Washington University

  1. The institutions do not teach historical truths anyway. Its all fake what was being taught to indoctrinate students. Many of our forefathers were illuminati.

  2. Our colleges and universities have turned a dangerous corner.

    They have forsaken the pillars of our own history … and those of the rest of civilization. It is now a short slide to peril.

    George Washington University’s shocking decision to slenderize this nation’s history is a foppish curtsy to kumbaya, globalistic claptrap.

    It seems some have opted for a bargain-priced buffet of historical tidbits that have no particular arrangement of importance at all. Just politically-correct trivia to be sampled for a temporary tasting experience … and then to be unremembered.

    Current academics are not really scholars at all, but rather sensitively schooled historical tip-toers who have, at best, popcorn knowledge of the figures and forces of the past. They search more for historical bruises than for historical truths because they are in the indictment business. And America, it seems, is ever-accused.

    It’s not historical scholarship at all.

    It’s polite, inoffensive memorabilia elevated to unreasoned importance that’s now misinterpreted as mastery. It is sickeningly tenderized for today’s finger-pointers who are in a desperate sniff for those historical excuses known as “root causes”.

    It represents retrieval talents rather than the talent of synthesis. It’s “Jeopardy” scholarship … sufficient to navigate through most circumstances without being exposed, but still bereft of the intellectual fitness needed to respond credibly to moments of challenge.

    True education helps construct a hearty, general fund of information that sits at the immediate ready for agile thinkers to retrieve, restitch, reconfigure, and requilt as demanded by the moment.

    It allows for the speedy understanding of parallels with the past that might reason the present. It fosters a quick reminder that any quick answers to complex issues or events are most likely too quick. And too sloppy. Quick should never be a goal of education.

    Proper education cultivates nimble thinkers who can rolodex their sharpened minds with relative ease to summon up worthy understandings. Intellectual introspection. “Heavy thinking” to most of us bar-brains.

    This new and disturbing development is not just a higher learning phenomenon. It all begins in the earliest grades.

    Curricula have been pared into paint-by-the-numbers education. Essential chunks of valued information have been crowded out to make room for comforting nonsense favored by social justice junkies. Third, sixth, and tenth graders are openly trained to be overly sensitive, politically-correct reactors rather than reasoned responders.

    Course contents have been so slimmed that our young learners have become historical anorexics.

    It is there … at the elementary and middle school levels … that disturbing decisions are made about this long range journey called education. These are conscious choices that some have championed with more gusto than those who advocate for the less frenetic route of measured brain-growing that is more in sync with the maturing process.

    And that maturing process is never uniform. Or on time. Maturity matures at different moments for different learners. Sometimes education is a practice in patience.

    Any child can be taught to play a violin well-enough to wow a crowd. But can that small wonder marvel another audience decades down the road with original compositions or interpretations? Those are two vastly different things.

    As a culture, we seem more prone to reward the student who glistens in the immediate moment rather than those who become real masters through an intellectual evolution that requires more patience, less specificity, and even a bit of uncertainty. That is how genuine education generally unfolds.

    It’s the difference between a performer and a virtuoso. And the difference has now become obvious.

    This is not how a torch is passed from one generation to the next. This is how a culture begins to rubble itself.

    American education needs rescuing. And so does this nation.

    Denis Ian

  3. Appropriate that the university is named after our founding father. His reaction….

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