"Often when I tell people that I have a BA in History they try to quiz me with some esoteric fact about history and seem very pleased with themselves if I cannot provide the answer. It is difficult for people who have not studied history academically to understand that what it consists of is not just gross memorization of dates, names and the like, but rather learning about critical thinking, historiography, and the methods of researching and constructing an argument based on historical evidence. Gaining those skills has resulted in a major shift in the way I view the world and communicate my ideas to others."
(Student interviewee, History Program Review, 2009, Office of University Planning and Analysis)
“I always really liked that VIU’s courses were small and that as a student I was able to get to know my professors. I appreciated the fact that I was not just a number and that I could build a relationship. I think this benefited me a lot throughout my time in the history program.”
(Name withheld, History Program Review, 2009, Office of Education Planning).
“I really think that the courses I took at VIU fostered strong critical thinking skills as well as the ability to synthesize information. These are the sort of skills that assist a person every day….I feel that the communication skills that I learned in the History Department at VIU are serving me well. Because I was in smaller classes where discussion played an important role, I now have strong oral communication skills. I feel comfortable speaking in front of colleagues and presenting my research to large audiences. [Writing] was never my strongest attribute [as an] undergrad but having experienced educators marking my papers and giving feedback was essential for me to improve my writing skills. In larger institutions often the only person grading your paper is a teaching assistant who might only have one or two years more academic experience than you do….Having instructors who cared about me as a student and as a person ensured that I felt a belonging at University.”
“The Department of History at VIU [taught me] to think critically and to appreciate the depth and breadth of the history of the world. The faculty provided substantial time and support to individual students to ensure their success.”
“I can’t help but feel honoured that I was able to be a part of this environment, this department, this great life experience. At no time during my years on campus did I leave a history class feeling that I did not get my money’s worth….The History Department was forever diligent in meeting my every scholastic need....If that weren’t enough, I met the woman I fell in love with in a history class one summer....The Department was very thorough in offering a wide range of Canadian, US, European, and World history courses to choose from…. As I moved into the upper levels the whole concept of History in general began to evolve for me. No longer was I building but now deconstructing the common and misplaced beliefs that historically had been perpetuated for thousands of years. I was able to understand the processes of paternalism, colonialism, and race … how women, minorities and conquered people were not given their due in the pages of history books….I realized that although the story has been told it can and should also be told from many different perspectives...I can say that this experience was priceless and has helped me to grow into a man who can look himself in the mirror and like what he sees. Education … is the key to enlightenment and VIU and the History Department has served me proud in educating and enlightening me…. The Past is History, the Future now is not so much of a mystery thanks to the present situation at VIU.”
“This history department challenges students to learn many useful skills ... such as being able effectively to communicate ideas or arguments, keeping close attention to detail, strong research methods, critical thinking, and the ability to meet deadlines … serve students well outside of the university and in the workplace.”