Monday, June 15, 2009

Katz on "Vanishing" History Courses

In his blog for the Chronicle of Higher Education, Stanley Katz, a former president of the American Society for Legal History (among other things) weighs in on the article in the New York Times on the disappearance of "traditional" history courses that Mary commented on last Friday. Katz concludes:
I don’t think we should be concerned about the loss of traditional historical categories or courses. We are on the whole much better off for the much richer array of subject matter now offered by history departments. What is wrong is the overly technical orientation of our undergraduate courses. We should be very worried about both the hyperspecialization of both historians and their courses, which are increasingly based on narrow research interests and decreasingly based upon either student interest or need. It would be a good time for history departments to reconsider how their courses contribute to the liberal education of undergraduates rather than to the research needs of their faculty. And of course if we rethought our courses, we might select faculty in a very different manner.

Image credit: Philosophy Reigning over the Seven Liberal Arts