Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Since 1907
Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

History department expands core offerings
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Calvin’s history department is increasing the variety of classes that will count for core credit. Ten 200-level classes will now satisfy the Historical Foundations core category, as will one new 100-level class. The existing core classes, HIST 151 and 152, will be reduced from four to three credit hours.

The history department developed these changes during the core revision process, according to Kristin Du Mez, history department chair. When the core proposal failed, the department decided to go ahead with their own revisions.

Faculty senate approved the changes on Tuesday, Feb. 28.

Du Mez said that, although the four-credit versions of HIST 151 and 152 “did a lot of good,” they were often “extremely burdensome” for first- and second-year students.

“More is not always better, particularly if it overwhelms first-year students,” she said.

Dean Elizabeth Vander Lei agreed that there needed to be a change

“It was becoming very clear that what we had was not working well.”

Du Mez pointed to a general trend in the field of history away from teaching survey classes and toward an “emphasis on historical thinking skills.” Both the 200-level classes as well as the new HIST 153: Explorations in World History will allow students to develop these skills regardless of the content focus.

According to an Educational Policy Committee (EPC) report, HIST 153 will operate much like DCM, with each section assigned a different topic despite having the same course number. Like the new versions of 151 and 152, it will be three credits.

One reason for opening 200-level classes up for core, Du Mez said, is to increase enrollments in these classes. Because the number of history majors has declined over the last decade, these classes are often cancelled for not reaching enrollment minimums.

“A lot of humanities departments have already structured their core in a way that supports their major,” said Du Mez. At Calvin, the English and religion departments already follow this structure, putting students seeking core credit into 200-level classes along with majors.

Another reason for the change is to increase the number of students who take history at Calvin rather than at another institution, Du Mez said.

“We all felt that, given exciting learning opportunities, students would choose those over perhaps less exciting opportunities not at Calvin,” said Vander Lei.

Du Mez hopes that students will find the variety of new core offerings “more fun, and more useful … if they can take courses that are more geared to their interests.”

She suggested options like HIST 225: England for literature majors or HIST 259: American Economic & Business History for business majors as ways for students to earn history core credit while investing in their interests.

“I think this revision to the history core demonstrates faculty confidence in students — that students are here because they want to learn, and they want to learn in the best way possible,” said Vander Lei. “We believe that this new history core is the best way to learn history in 2017.”

The following courses will now count for the Historical Foundations core category. All are three credits.


HIST 151: History of the West & World I

HIST 152: History of the West & World II

HIST 153: Explorations in World History


HIST 225: England

HIST 229: U.S.A.

HIST 251: Early America

HIST 252: America from Republic to Empire

HIST 253: Recent America

HIST 255: African-American History

HIST 259: American Economic & Business History

HIST 264: Reformation & Revolution: Europe, 1500-1800

HIST 267: Modern Europe

HIST 274: Environmental History

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