Digging into the past at Agnes Scott
Agnes Scott’s SUMMIT experience is front and center in the History major program. The History faculty bring an international perspective to their work, and have led student trips to Ghana, Germany, Poland, Gambia, France and Switzerland. The History major, at its base, is about deepening students’ understanding of the human experience in its multiple facets.
That’s exactly what Nemain Morgan-Curtis ‘23, a history major, says she has learned in the history major. “Learning about history and focusing on specific eras helps you have a better perspective and understanding of the world today…it’s extremely relevant.”
History majors from Agnes Scott go on to work as lawyers, research assistants, development associates, fundraisers, professors, grant writers and museum educators at companies like Delta Air Lines, Grady Health System, Common Sense Media, Trusted Technical Solutions LLC and more. Here’s a few key facts about the major:
What do you do in a history major?
History courses give students who come from a variety of cultural traditions an understanding of the development of values, institutions and social structures during periods of time. By offering courses on different regions of the world and on different eras of history, and by emphasizing diversity within cultures, history courses challenge students to learn about people who are different.
Nemain emphasizes that the courses are very different from what students may be used to from their high school history courses. “Classes are much more specific. Since you are able to focus on a more specialized topic, it can be more interesting.”
What kinds of classes can I take with a history major?
Foundational history courses cover information on the historical imagination. Students then are able to take courses in a variety of history traditions, including African History ( such as The African Diaspora and A History of Health & Healing in Africa); Asian History (Chinese Women on Film, Introduction to Japanese History); European History (Europe At Peace & At War, European Women Since the Middle Ages, Europe in the Victorian Era); Middle Eastern History (The Making of the Modern Middle East, Women and Gender in the Middle East); United States History (A Multicultural History of American Women, Oral History, Topics in African-American History); and many more (Roman Civilization, African Environmental History, The Black Death).
Two of Nemain’s favorite courses have been Cold War Civil Rights and Science from the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment. “The Cold War and the (American) Civil Rights movements are two topics that are taught separately in high school, but they are really deeply ingrained. It’s really eye-opening,” Nemain says. “Science from the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment was about the history of science, which isn’t really taught to people but is fascinating, especially learning about the beginnings of medicine.”
What skills will I learn in this major?
The history major focuses on strengthening skills as a reader, writer, speaker, critical thinker and researcher. Students will learn how to find, evaluate and utilize primary and secondary historical sources; develop and articulate persuasive arguments; and apply knowledge and critical interpretation of the past to an understanding of one’s own identity and cultural background. Alumni have said that in their careers, they have used core skills learned in research, public speaking, management, editing, event planning and leadership.
What internships, research opportunities and special programs are available?
History majors are able to intern and research in a number of fields and interests. During the Sophomore Class Atlanta Leadership Experience (SCALE), students have the chance to work in a number of fields with Atlanta organizations. Last year, this included the Agape Youth & Family Center; Atlanta Legal Aid; The Atlanta Women’s Foundation; Campus Community Partnership Foundation; Decatur MLK Service Project Board; The Friends School of Atlanta; Incentive Solutions | OneAffiniti; New American Pathways; Tapestri; and Turknett Leadership Group.
History majors will work with their major advisors and the Office of Internship and Career Development to find and acquire internship opportunities that fit their future goals. In the past, this has included internships with the Georgia Archives, NPR and the High Museum.
Nemain interned with the DeKalb History Center in her junior year. She was able to do archival inventory, index maps and documents and complete research. She also authored two blog posts based on documents in the archive, including one on the history of the Decatur High School Varsity Basketball Team and the Baron DeKalb Chapter of the D.A.R.
What are the benefits of studying history at Agnes Scott College?
- The Classroom Experience: History students are required to read widely, to think critically and to strengthen their skills in research, writing and speaking. History provides a framework and a context for insights from other disciplines and in this sense is one of the foundational disciplines of a liberal arts education.
- Leadership: History students have ample opportunities to practice leadership and engage in experiential learning. Resources in Atlanta enable majors to undertake research in archives and specialized collections. As part of the History major, each senior will produce a work of original scholarship on a topic of their own choosing. Students are also able to get involved on campus in 60+ clubs and organizations, including groups like the Black Power Book Club, Black Ring Radio, Freedom at Agnes, Her Campus, IGNITE Political Group, Mortar Board, NAACP, Planned Parenthood Generation Action, Revolutionary HIstorians, Scotties for Change and The Profile.
- Graduate Experience: In addition to the jobs and internships that have already been mentioned, recent history graduates have gone on to amazing graduate programs in numerous different fields, including Master of Library Services at Rutger University; Law at the College of William and Mary; Master of Divinity at South Baptist Theological Seminary; Master of Science in Nursing at Emory University; Medicine at University of Louisville; PhD in History at Auburn University; Law at Georgetown University; Master of Social Work at Florida State University; Master of Public Policy at Pepperdine University; and Law at Duke University.
Nemain adds that for students considering history, to know that it’s a field that comes with broad skills. “History is a very broad major; people often think it isn’t relevant, but the skills that you learn and the information you learn let you really do anything. It teaches you all the skills you need to be successful.”