History helps us to understand the present and the future. Our world faces significant challenges, from accelerating climate change to increasing political polarisation. Historical study provides us with the tools for finding the roots of contemporary problems, and for developing potential solutions. As a history major, you will draw on history faculty’s expertise in a range of regions, including Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Russia, East Asia, Europe, the United States, and Africa. You will also study themes – from food to death – which cut across regional divides. But the study of history is more than the accumulation of data: you will also analyze primary and secondary sources; hone your critical thinking skills; and learn to research and write essays. You will develop your abilities as a reader, thinker, and writer.

With strong analytical, writing, and research skills, history majors are prepared for a wide range of occupations and professions in both the public and private sectors. Colby history majors have pursued a variety of careers, including in government and journalism, in start-ups and non-profits, and in teaching. Many have qualified later as lawyers. And some have gone onto graduate school and qualified as historians, working at colleges and universities across the United States.

The history major is designed to provide students with as wide a geographical and temporal range of courses as possible. All history majors are required to take HI276, which introduces the story of global history; you will have opportunity to study medieval Europe, and Putin’s Russia; women in the Islamic world and rivers in the US. In lectures (typically, but not always, 100- and 200-level courses) and seminars (typically, but again not always, 300- and 400-level courses), you will hone your critical analysis, reading, and writing skills. You will learn how to think historically.

Contact Professor John Turner ([email protected]), chair, with questions regarding history at Colby. The department secretary is Teresa Van Deventer ([email protected] / 207-859-5320), and the History Department is located on the second floor of Miller Library.


HI241: History of Colby

Here’s a video of one of our courses, taught in Colby’s Special Collections archives.