History Making Skills

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Mar. 26, 2013

History Making Skills

History Professor Linda Salvucci is part of the American Historical Association’s Tuning Project to articulate the value of a history degree.

Trinity History Professor Linda Salvucci

By Russell Guerrero '83

The study of history is more than just a look into the past - a combination of names, dates, and events of a time long ago. The study of history provides a valuable and broad education, which includes marketable skills that can transfer into the business world, giving majors a particular advantage in starting a career in a number of fields.  A history degree can also provide a student a solid foundation for civic engagement.

Trinity University history professor Linda Salvucci is part of a national effort to articulate the value of a history degree. She is one of 60 faculty members who comprise the American Historical Association's (AHA) Tuning Project, working to define what a student should understand and be able to do at the completion of a degree program.

"Historians have been traditionally shy about doing this.  We just have not been used to speaking to this larger issue and the time has come to do that," said Salvucci, adding that this was part of her agenda when, as chair of the National Council for History Education.

That organization developed a document titled "History's Habits of Mind."  The document articulated that "historical thinking develops a unique capacity to comprehend human situations, challenges, and interactions."  

Salvucci said that the Tuning Project is not about setting up a common curriculum but rather outlining the skill sets needed to obtain a history degree.

"History, fundamentally, is argument about the past.  It is not just about collecting information and listing it," explained Salvucci. "It is what you do with that information. How do you shape that information into some kind of argument that provides insight."

At the end of the three-year Tuning Project, Salvucci said the committee will produce a degree specifications document, which will include a statement on the purpose for studying history, the characteristics of a history education, learning outcomes for students, and possible career pathways.

As part of Tuning Project, Salvucci said she would like to hear from history majors who used their degree in the workplace and from employers who benefitted from hiring workers with a history degree.  She can be contacted at lsalvucc@trinity.edu.

 -Russell Guerrero '83 is the public information officer at Trinity. He can be reached at rguerrer@trinity.edu