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History Mission

The history discipline supports and fulfills virtually all of the St. Norbert College mission goals (unless otherwise indicated, all quotes are from the Statement of Mission and Core Values):

For centuries history has been integral to the liberal arts. Through the study of history, we understand the breadth and diversity of human existence, analyze and appreciate the effects of change and continuity over time in human societies, and compare and contrast economic, social, political, and cultural systems from around the world. Thus we come to understand ourselves better by gaining a deeper awareness of people in other times and places.

The study of history and the historical method also develops the intellectual skills so long valued in the liberal arts tradition: history students “develop skills in critical and analytical thought, quantification, synthesis, problem-solving, and communication.” More specifically, history students become especially adept at assessing evidence and drawing conclusions (notably from primary sources), comparing and contrasting, analyzing and explaining continuity and change over time, and writing effectively.

Regarding values, the study of history encourages students to “identify, test, and strengthen their moral convictions, act with personal integrity, develop meaningful personal goals, and build relationships based on mutual respect,” and it does so largely by demonstrating how people everywhere have at times done, or not done, these things and what the consequences have been for themselves and their larger societies. To study history is to examine and reflect upon what individuals can and cannot do and the human response to circumstances and choices. Thus, history is “spiritually and personally challenging.”

The history program contributes to the Catholic and Norbertine components of the mission by introducing students to the history of Catholicism. Moreover, because of the unique geographic breadth of the St. Norbert College history discipline, students learn not only the origins and development of Catholicism in the Middle East and Europe but also its spread to Africa, Asia and North America and its pervasive influence in Latin America. Additionally, we “advance the Catholic intellectual tradition” by sharing in its “search for truth and wisdom.”

The St. Norbert College mission statement refers often to the college’s global mission in its general statements and core values. The mission statement requires students to develop intellectual skills and “apply these as responsible citizens of a diverse, interdependent and changing world.” To study change is to study history, and the history offered at St. Norbert College is more geographically diverse than at most other small colleges. Hence, our students acquire knowledge of the world that allows them to act as responsible citizens.  

St. Norbert College also “embraces a diversity of persons, perspectives and cultures as components to our collegial community of learning,” strives to “build an international learning community rooted in Christian ideals where persons of all faiths and beliefs are valued contributing partners,” and “extends the Norbertine tradition through learning, prayer, and service in response to the particular needs of people throughout the world.” Again, students of history acquire the knowledge, intellectual skills, and attitudes that facilitate the fulfillment of these aspects of the college mission.

Finally, in accordance with the mission statement, “we aspire to excellence in teaching, learning, scholarship, creative expression, and professionalism.”