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American Students Become Less Educated On Their Country’s History

As we plunge into a new year, people are making their resolutions, changing their diets, and gym memberships are spiking! Additionally, history majors aren’t required to take U.S. History courses to gain their degree at George Washington University. Welcome to the new year!

If that sounds strange, it’s because it is. According to The Hachet, GWU’s campus newspaper, “the new change in the major’s requirements is part of an attempt to ‘draw in’ students who would otherwise not want to enroll at GWU because of the United States history requirement, and allow them to ‘tailor their academic plans to better reflect a globalizing world’”, says The Daily Wire

The department chair at GWU, Katrin Schultheiss, says that they made this change because of “enrollment pressures” for their school. According to Schultheiss, “only 83 GWU students majored in history in 2016, compared with 153 in 2011.” She now says that the history majors at GWU “will still be required to take at least one introductory history course, one introductory history seminar, either to ten upper division history courses, and a thesis or capstone project; but none of those courses need to be specific to American history anymore”, reports Pardes Seleh.

The school claims that this change will bring in more revenue for the school, but the College Fix says otherwise. The College Fix wrote that this could be misleading, as students can still take courses outside of their major in this way still providing the same revenue for the school.

Many professors at GWU say that this change is good as it demonstrates the “new way” that historians are studying history. Denver Brunsman, an associate professor of history at GWU said, “I think an important change in the history major has been to make our major actually reflect the field of history the way that historians study it now. In the past – and I think our old standards reflected this – it was very common to have students take a class in American history, in European history and maybe, just maybe, something else, another part of the world.” (Thanks to the Daily Wire for the quote).

Jacob Chereskin however, a fourth-year Middle East major at GWU thinks otherwise. Chereskin says that removing American history as a requirement will be “counterproductive to how students will understand global affairs.” He then went on to say, “If a student learning international affairs or political science is ignorant of U.S. history, they won’t be able to make informed opinions on the U.S. policies at home and abroad.”

Why are history courses any different than any other class? If you are studying “math” (for sake of a better term), you do not get to choose if you want to understand basic geometry and algebra. Doing so would make you uninformed in your future math studies, as basic geometry and algebra are core backbones for any math studies – at the same goes for history. Of course, these are private universities so they are entitled to their rights, and we do not want the government stepping in and mandating what they can and cannot do. I just believe that is is unwise to not require American history for a history major since the subject still does and continues to play a very important role.




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