Why study history?

The study of history begins with questions, not answers. We seek to know what happened in the past, and we also seek to understand why.

As our present-day context raises new challenges for our communities, historians are inspired to ask new questions about the past, seeking understanding of a broad variety of human experiences. Historians explore questions about past politics and economics, intellectual developments, social concerns shaped by race, gender and class, and facets of culture ranging from arts and languages to human spaces and emotions. As a result, the study of history is dynamic, rather than static, and those trained in this discipline develop valuable skills in gathering, evaluating, connecting and interpreting factual information, and in the use of evidence to argue persuasively for their conclusions.

Learn more about what historians do and why employers value these skills.

News

grainy photo of Alfred William Robinson, Bedford, VA, U.S. Army, Vietnam War with image of american flag

May 12, 2022

Shrine of Memory Digital Projects

Students in History 351: America Since 1945 completed a video project in cooperation with the Virginia War Memorial's Shrine of Memory in honor of Virginians killed in action in World War II, Korea, or Vietnam.

Melis Hafez

May 2, 2022

Inventing Laziness: The Culture of Productivity in Late Ottoman Society

In her first monograph, Professor Melis Hafez, a historian of the nineteenth century Ottoman Empire, worked on exploring the concept of laziness, and how it was perceived as a social disease.

Shockoe Hill African Burying Ground

April 29, 2022

Listing a Threatened Burial Ground on the National Register of Historic Places

Professor Ryan Smith details the collaborative efforts behind nominating Shockoe Hill African Burying Ground for the National Register of Historic Places.

History Spotlight

Meet Sophie

Sophie Crago has a passion for learning and understanding our past. Visit our 'Meet a Student' page to read more about Sophie's favorite classes, favorite professors, and what she plans to do with her bachelor's degree in history.

Sophie Crago