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History


Professor Lendol Calder and his department collegues help students gain the knowledge and critical thinking skills to become responsible scholars and individuals who compete in the global marketplace.


  • Careers/internships
  • About the program
  • What students say

Augustana graduates in history pursue careers in the fields of research, government, education, law, museum and archival work, communications and business.

Students can receive up to nine credits in history internships. Students also gain hands-on experience through student teaching and by taking part in the international and experiential learning opportunities related to the teaching and research of their professors. These include the college’s programs in China, Germany, Ghana, Senegal, Peru and Mexico; the academic term at Holden Village in the Pacific Northwest; and service learning and/or research on American Indian communities in Oklahoma.

Recent history majors have completed internships with the Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa; the Figge Museum, Davenport, Iowa; Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois; Rock Island County Historical Society; Seton Catholic School, Moline, Illinois; and the Quad City Botanical Center.

What graduates do

Here's a sampling of what history graduates do:

Angela Corsa ’10  is a graduate student in Latin American Studies at the University of Chicago, working toward a Ph.D. in history.

Tushar Rae '10 is a journalist and educator who has interned at The Chronicle of Higher Education and taught social studies and special education at a residential placement for juvenile delinquents.

Alexander Vlastnik ’13 is pursuing a master’s degree in history at Western Illinois University.

Augustana offers a major and minor in history, a history teaching major, and a history honors program for majors intending to pursue graduate school in history; this includes a foreign language, an additional 3-credit history course and a two-term honors project guided by a faculty member.

More than half of Augustana history majors declare a second major, most commonly anthropology, geography, political science, sociology or religion—as well as related fields such as Africana, Asian, Latin American and women’s and gender studies. Most students in the pre-law program major in history.

Facts & distinctions

Through a nationally recognized curriculum designed by Augustana history faculty, Augustana students learn history not through memorization of facts and events, but by learning to understand and interpret history.

The eight full-time faculty members all have a Ph.D. and are leaders in innovative education methods, published research and international programs; one was named the 2011 Illinois Professor of the Year.

All students complete an original historical research project for their Senior Inquiry capstone, an experience that is especially rare for students of history teaching: Augustana history education students complete Senior Inquiry under the guidance of a historian and leader in the field of teaching history.

Andrew Shaffer ’11, history major

Graduate student in international studies, University of San Francisco

“In my second term at Augie, I took a history class that exposed me to the modern realities in Latin America for the first time. This class, taught by Dr. Todd, piqued my interest in the region and in Argentina specifically. Through conversations with Dr. Todd and others, I learned that my interest didn’t have to end once the class finished, and we set about making a plan to get me to Argentina to do my own research. A few months later, with the help of funds from the Freistat Center for World Peace and Augie Choice, I was on the ground in Argentina, taking Spanish classes and performing my very own research. While I was there I toured some of the most historically important areas of Buenos Aires, participated in a protest for marriage equality, became mostly fluent in Spanish and made the first inroads into research that I am continuing now in my graduate study.”

Tom Geraci ’08, history and secondary education majors

Vocational coordinator McHenry and Johnsburg schools

“Since graduating, I have taught history, worked for President Obama’s election twice, and assisted young adults with disabilities in preparing for, obtaining and succeeding in competitive employment. Thanks to Augustana’s history department, I had the tools to take on all of these challenges. At Augustana, the study of history is an ongoing discussion … to be part of which requires thinking critically, seeking multiple perspectives, reflection and plain old hard work. Pursuing the past in this way gave me not only the hard skills of a historian, but the soft skills needed to succeed in many areas.”

Williams '64: 'You have to follow a passion'

John Williams spent 30 years at the Rock Island Arsenal as a scientist and engineer, leaving in 1994. The word "retired" doesn't seem to fit Mr. Williams, 75, who published his second historical novel earlier this year, and earned a black belt in Shaolin kung fu in 2009. The self-described "history nut" loves surfing the library stacks at his alma mater, Augustana College, for the joy of learning — and possibly for his next literary inspiration.

Augustana's first black graduate and 'cultural mimicry'

This week's NPR's Code Switch feature, "How Turbans Helped Some Blacks Go Incognito In The Jim Crow Era," includes the story of Jesse Routte, the first African-American to graduate from Augustana. Code Switch journalists cover the overlapping themes of race, ethnicity and culture. They spoke with scholars who documented how some people of color used the turban as a tool for "confounding the color lines."

Video: Sheltering Jews during World War II

Jeno Laszlo Berta delivered the annual Geifman Lecture in Holocaust Studies. Berta was born in the village of Hegyhàtsàl, county of Vas-(Megye), Hungary, in 1937. During World War II, Hungary's Jewish population was not targeted for extermination until 1944. However, once the round-ups and deportations began, they were run with ruthless and brutal efficiency.
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