Message from the Chair


Welcome to the History Department! We hope that you share our enthusiasm for the study of past societies and cultures.

What are the origins of the world in which we live: its economy, its social and political organization, its many diverse cultures? The challenges we face today – where did they come from? What lessons can we learn from past societies’ efforts to resolve their own challenges?  For many of us, history unlocks important insights into the world we inhabit. But we also find intellectual satisfaction, and a great deal of wisdom, in understanding the past on its own terms.

Students of history develop an understanding of change – how it happens and why it happens the way it does – that enables them to engage the world they inhabit. Because of the geographical breadth of our courses, history students develop a global consciousness that helps them to navigate the streets (and the news) from Iowa City to Berlin to Nairobi. Employers value history students’ ability to analyze human and social behavior, to research pressing problems, and to express themselves clearly. Graduates of the UI History department occupy prominent positions in government, private industry, journalism, law, entertainment, education, the non-profit sector, and more. In fact, a recent study showed that History BA’s earn more than graduates in any other humanities field.

In addition to teaching, faculty members do cutting-edge research in their fields of specialization. That research finds its way into teaching materials, professional journals, books for scholarly and popular audiences, digital collections, news reporting, legal briefs, policy-making, museum exhibits, film and TV documentaries, and more. We’re often called upon to advise journalists or policy makers who want to make sure they’re getting their facts right – and who also want to make sure they’re analyzing and contextualizing those facts correctly. We see our mission as serving students, the State of Iowa, and the public sphere more broadly.

We look forward to helping to plan your course of study, to advise on specific courses or sequences of courses, or to consult on career objectives. Our office hours are posted on our office doors; you can also find them by phoning or visiting the History Department office at SH 280 (335-2299). Get acquainted with the office staff, including Pat Goodwin and Sheri Sojka. When you visit the office, you can also browse through recent faculty and alumni publications and read announcements of upcoming events. I have an open-door policy, so if I’m in my office (SH 276), please feel free to drop in. And don’t forget to “friend” us on Facebook! (Department of History, Hawkeye History Corps, and Graduate History Society)

Whatever your interest in history, we are happy to get to know you. We’re sure that you’ll find your association with the department both challenging and rewarding.

Elizabeth Heineman, Professor and Chair
Department of History