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.


Michael Dickinson, Ph.D., a professor in VCU’s Department of History, will discuss his book, “Almost Dead: Slavery and Social Rebirth in the Black Urban Atlantic, 1680-1807,” on Feb. 24 at St. John’s Church. (Contributed photo)

Feb. 19, 2024

In Feb. 24 address, VCU history professor will highlight early America’s urban slavery in human terms

Drawing from narratives of the enslaved and his book ‘Almost Dead,’ Michael Dickinson will discuss resistance, survival and modern legacies.

Nicholas George said it was rewarding to serve as an expert at a prestigious conference about John Milton “on behalf of all people with disabilities like me.” (Photo by Tom Kojcsich, Enterprise Marketing and Communications)

Jan. 8, 2024

Class of 2023: Nicholas George felt like a failure as a child, but now he’s an internationally credentialed expert on John Milton

George, who has autism and epilepsy, built on his love of reading to earn an M.A. in English at VCU and to join fellow Milton experts from around the world at a conference in Toronto.

Headshots of Maggie Goddard and Daniel Sunshine

Nov. 29, 2023

Righting Some of the Wrongs from the Past: East Marshall Street Well Project

Maggie Unverzagt Goddard, Ph.D. and Daniel Sunshine, Ph.D. each received a Postdoctoral Independent Research Award (PIRA), which will assist them in furthering their individual projects for the East Marshall Street Well Project.

History Spotlight


Collaboration and sharing are at the core of our mission.

zena hitz

The Blake Lecture in the History of Christianity Series presents "God and the Search for Happiness"

Date: Tuesday, Mar 19, 2024

Join us March 19, 2024 for the annual Blake Lecture in the History of Christianity featuring Zena Hitz.