History majors learn the past, look to the future

Throughout college, students often wonder why certain courses are required, especially if they have no relation to their choice of study. One of those courses is often history.

According to Michael Ciccone, a sophomore secondary education, social studies and history major, history is way more important than we might realize. “[It] allows us to compare and contrast the events of today with events of the past that may have similar contexts,” he said. “By doing this we can see what solutions to issues might be best and which ones to avoid.”

Photo courtesy of Michael Ciccone

Ciccone compared studying history to stepping into a time machine and learning about the people who have lived before us.

A typical day for a history major is just like every other student’s – busy. The course load is great for students who want to double major because it is only 36 credits, Ciccone said.

He is interested in Irish history, specifically “the troubles,” which lasted from the late 1960s to 1998.

“It’s a beautiful thing to unearth a people’s culture in the scope of terrible things like ethnic conflict. I think more people should do that,” Ciccone said.

Ciccone said a few people at Seton Hall have had a major influence on his study, including Professor Dermot Quinn, professor and director of Graduate Studies in History. Quinn grew up in Derry, Northern Ireland.

Quinn has taught in the history department at Seton Hall for 28 years, teaching courses like Early Modern Ireland, Modern Ireland, Early Modern Britain, and Modern Britain. These are all upper-level European history courses that are part of the History degree requirement.

His main goal in each of his courses is, “to deepen our students’ knowledge of the past but also, more subtly, to encourage and inculcate certain qualities of mind.” Some of these qualities include the assessment of evidence, precision of thought, and a proper understanding of cause and effect.

Quinn said he wants to encourage a “historical sensibility” or “an awareness that history is one of the greatest of the liberal arts and that to be ignorant of it is to be a kind of intellectual slave.”

The program has changed significantly since Quinn started teaching, more global and interdisciplinary with scholars working in Legal History, Asian History, Women’s and Gender History, and Medieval History.

History minors like junior Christopher Famularo take advantage of SHU’s history department too.

Photo courtesy of Christopher Famularo

Famularo spoke about the importance of studying history, and why students need to understand the past in order to handle situations and issues that may arise in the future.

“I would say I most enjoy learning about how things became the way they are,” Famularo said. “I love learning about settlement, growth, and evolution. The world is always changing and we see history every day, so why not admire events from other time periods.”

Famularo added that he would like to see a Native American studies course added to the history department’s curriculum.

Erika Szumel can be reached at erika.szumel@student.shu.edu.

Author: Erika Szumel

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