Why study history?


B.A. Requirements - About the Program

Pre-Law Minor

Study Abroad Program

Washington Internships

 Course Descriptions


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History Web Page administered by:

Department of Social Sciences and History

Becton College of Arts and Sciences


Madison, N.J. 07940

Tel: 973-443-8721

Dept. Secretary: Ms. Grethe Zarnitz

Dept. Chair: Dr. David Rosen

This page was designed by Peter J. Woolley and is maintained by the Department of Social Sciences and History

Why study History?

"Ye can lead a man up to the university but ye can't make him think"

Why study history? Because it's fascinating. Taking a history course is like watching a never-ending soap except that you can stop the camera at any given point and dig into what really make the characters work. If you like people, you'll love history. People is what history is all about. Not just the people who have changed the course of events, but those who have never made the news are there for the keen observer--both the Pharaoh and those who painted and carved his tomb; both the roman emperor and those who he dominated; both the industrialist and the worker; the dictator and the victim. Everyone is grist for the historic mill.

Study history if you're curious. Study history if you're interested in finding out about yourself and the world you live in.

But history isn't simple. You will have to hone your skills. You will have to be a detective, a news analyst, and a critic. You may have the impression from secondary education that all history is memorizing the facts and spitting them back in multiple-choice or true-false form. The facts are essential, but at a higher level it is you who get to interpret them, to turn them over in your mind, and to draw conclusions from them. Your conclusions cannot ignore the facts or suppress them, but the picture is there even though the puzzle may be missing a few pieces. To study history is to attempt to understand the world around you by investigating the ongoing experiment in which we are all involved.

And history is truly interdisciplinary. Art, literature, music, social trends, abnormal psychology, -- it is the laboratory experiment for all. But it also strives to give a framework, to confirm that you have not simply been dropped here on a trash heap out of which protruded a classic here and a truant there; a heroine here, a scientific break through there; here the Venus de Milo, there Vanna White. Discover where you are and maybe even who you are. Stranger things have happened.

"And where will it get me?" That's not an unimportant consideration. You will learn to read critically. You will learn to write clearly. You will learn to sort special interests out from general interests. You will become familiar with an infinite variety of human responses to both good and evil situations. You will become more resourceful, more sophisticated, more aware. You may do better on graduate entrance examinations (history majors have an advantage here due to their experience at critical thinking and accurate expression of their thought).

So, history is an open field on which the human mind may graze at will. You can take from it what you will, but in the process you will be forced to consider a multitude of possible human responses. These are the same human responses which you will encounter at home, on the job, as a citizen, and as a human being.

Welcome aboard no matter what your major may be, but, who knows, it may even end up being history.

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Departmental Faculty

  • Dr. Robert McTague (Ph.D. Drew University) specializes in modern European and American intellectual history. He teaches our courses on 20th Century Europe, 20th Century United States, Modern Germany, U.S. Intellectual History, American Heroes and Britain since 1688. Representative of his unique historical interests is his article "Klee, Kandinsky, and Modern Physics" published in European Legacy. He is the faculty advisor to Phi Sigma Pi, the National Honors Fraternity.

Office - M15A

Phone - 973-443-8797

        Dr. Jasonne Grabher O’Brien (Ph.D. University of Kansas) specializes in medieval legal history. She teaches survey classes in ancient and medieval civilizations as well as upper-division courses that include “Origins of European Law,” “Medieval Art,” “Magic and Witchcraft” and “Burnt Offerings: Women’s History in Pre-Modern Europe.” Her research has been published in Roman Legal Tradition and History of Medieval Canon Law and Cincinnati Judaica Review. For the year 2002-3 Dr. O’Brien has been awarded a Mellon Post Doctoral Fellowship and will research at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies in Toronto, Canada.

Office - M15A

Phone - 973-443-8735


Office - M34A

Phone -  973.443.8732

  • Dr. Diane Sommerville specializes in 19th century American history. She completed her doctoral work at Rutgers University, taught at Princeton University for several years, has authored several articles, and has a book forthcoming from the University of North Carolina Press.

Office - M30A

Phone - 973-443-8387

  • Dr. Thomas McDonald specializes in pre-1500 French and Roman Imperial history. He received his Ph.D. from Bryn Mawr in 1971. His courses include Ancient Civilization, Medieval World, the Rise of Rome, Roman Empire, Ancient Greeks, Medieval England and France, and Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Among his scholarly contributions is a score of authoritative articles in Medieval France: An Encyclopedia (New York & London: Garland, 1995). He is often asked by community organizations to present programs on medieval history.

Office - M15A

Phone - 973-443.8730

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About the Program

The History Department fosters both broad based and specific objectives. The Department currently offers a wide variety of courses, all concerned with changes in human experience through time. These courses range from the histories of Greek and Roman civilizations to the histories of Europe and America. Some courses deal with the history of a particular country, others concentrate on a certain period of time and still other deal with a special theme. Taking advantage of the variety of offerings, students are able to develop broad perspectives on both the past and the present.

Remember, history is among the humanist pursuit. Like a great painting, a piece of music, or a gorgeous sunset, history enriches one's life and can have an existence separate from the narrow, practical (and soon obsolete) skills and professional preparation associated with some disciplines.

Required Courses

A total of 36-42 credits is required for a major in history with at least 24 credits in major elective courses.


Freshman Seminar (1)

Basic Skills (22-23 credits)

ENGW 1101 Freshman Writing Workshop (3)

ENGW 1102 Freshman Writing Workshop (3)

MATH 1126 Contemporary Math (3) or MATH 1128 Math Methods (3) or MATH 1107 Precalculus (4)

MATH 1133 Applied Statistics (3) or CSCI 1145 Computers & Computing (3)

THEA 1107 Public Speaking (3)

Modern Language: 1001 (3); 1002 (3).

Physical Education: PHED (1)

University Core (12 credits)

CORE 1001 Perspectives on the Individual (3)

CORE 2002 American Experience (3)

CORE 2003 Cross-Cultural Perspectives (3)

CORE 3004 Global Issues (3)

Social & Behavioral Sciences (9 credits)

(Three courses in at least two disciplines.)

Wroxton courses with appropriate prefix meet these requirements.

Humanities (6 credits)

(Two courses in disciplines other than history.)

Wroxton courses with appropriate prefix meet these requirements.

Laboratory Sciences (8 - 10 credits)

(Two 4-cr courses OR three courses (three 3-cr, or one 4-cr and two 3-cr) in at lest two disciplines.)


2.33 GPA Required

Required history courses (12 credits):

HIST 1201 Ancient Civilization (3) or HIST 1202 Medieval World (3)

HIST 1203 Foundations of the Modern World (3)

HIST 1204 Modern World: 1776 to the Present (3)

HIST 1205 American Themes (3)

Major elective courses (24 - 30 credits)

At least 3 credits from each of the following areas.

Wroxton history courses meet these requirements.




HIST 3320 The Ancient Greeks

HIST 3321 The Rise of Rome

HIST 3322 The Roman Empire

HIST 3323 Medieval England and France

HIST 3327 The Russian State to Catherine

HIST 3328 Judaism, Christianity and Islam

HIST 3331 Modern Revolutions

HIST 3332 World War II and the Cold War

HIST 3343 20th Century Revolutions

HIST 3344 Russian Foreign Policy

HIST 3345 Russia and the Soviet Union

HIST 3346 Britain Since 1688

HIST 3347 History of Modern China

HIST 3348 Modern Germany

HIST 3349 History of Modern Middle East

HIST 3350 Rise of Nazi Germany

HIST 3422 Britain in the Modern Era

HIST 3433 Ideology & Literature in the Soviet Union

HIST 3440 Europe in the 20th Century

HIST 4830 Britain Today


HIST 2350 Colonial and Revolutionary America

HIST 2351 The Age of Jefferson and Jackson

HIST 2352 Civil War and Reconstruction

HIST 2357 Industrial and Urban America

HIST 2358 20th Century United States

HIST 1112 U.S. History since 1877

HIST 3354 U.S. Social and Cultural History

HIST 3355 The Old South

HIST 3356 The American West

HIST 3357 African-American History

HIST 3358 U.S. Constitutional History

HIST 3359 The Great Depression

HIST 2350 Colonial and Revolutionary America

Free Electives (25-34 credits)

Free electives are any courses not needed to meet college core requirements or major requirements.

Wroxton courses meet these requirements.

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Pre-Law Minor

The Pre-Law Minor provides you with the substantive background and specific skills necessary for success in law school. The Minor requires that you complete six courses. The courses in the Minor are:

Writing Skills: ENEW30001 Advanced Writing Workshop

Reasoning Skills (choose one courses from among):

PHIL1104 Practical Logic

PHIL1101 Logic

Anthropological and Sociological Approaches (choose one course from among):

ANTH3430 Anthropology of Law

SOCI3333 Criminal Law

SOCI2306 Crime and Criminology

SOCI2307 Deviance and Social Control

Political and Legal Studies (choose three courses from among):

HIST3358 U.S. Constitutional History

POLS3304 Criminal Justice

POLS3306 American Constitutional Law

POLS3307 Civil Rights and Civil Liberties

POLS3308 Law and Society

For more information, visit our pages on Pre-Law and Legal Studies.

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Study Abroad


Students are encouraged to spend a semester at Wroxton College, FDU's campus in England. Sample the cultures of Europe and experience a first-rate British education, including tutorials, seminars and visits to major cultural and political events. Because the College's curriculum is carefully planned and coordinated with FDU, all courses are accredited. For information on applying for study and advisement on course selection, see your advisor.


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The Washington Center, located in Washington D.C., offers internships for every field of study. A Washington Center staff member, called a "program supervisor," will find an internship that matches your area of interest. The program supervisor will assist you during your stay in Washington. He or she will be there to offer support, answer your questions, and help you work through any problems that may arise.

Your internship will be at least 80 percent entry-level professional work and no more than 20 percent clerical, ensuring you the hand-on career experience you need.

In addition to your internship, you will participate in an academic course one evening a week. The Washington Center offers a wide range of courses on topics including issues in the arts and humanities, communications, public policy, business, and law. You also will meet periodically with your program supervisor and other students to discuss your internship experiences.

You will be invited to attend at least two breakfasts at the U.S. Capitol with an influential leader or policy maker. These breakfasts allow you to meet and speak informally with prominent national figures. You will also attend an afternoon speaker series which features experts in a diverse set of issues of national importance.

To participate in our internship program, you must be a second semester sophomore or above at the time you attend with at least a 2.5 grade point average on a 4.0 scale. Many students earn 12 to 15 credits while participating in our internship program and your school will determine the credits awarded. Dr. Greene is the campus liaison with the Washington Center and will be able to provide you with more information about the Center's programs.


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