The College’s Curriculum Implementation Committee (CIC) is currently reviewing and approving two considerable changes to the History major.

The history department has proposed to reduce the number of required non-Western courses from four to three. It has also proposed to eliminate the stipulation that students must take three upper-level seminars across two fields and instead only require that students take three upper-level seminars in any field of study they choose. Fields of study include Africa, East Asia, Europe, Latin America, South Asia, United States, Atlantic Worlds and Colonial Worlds. 

If the CIC approves the changes, they will be effective for all current and new majors beginning next fall.

Chair of the Department of History and Associate Professor of History Dallas Denery said the changes were a result of student and faculty opinion that the current requirements, implemented five years ago, were too stringent. There were 47 history majors in the class of 2009, making it the third most popular major. There are 26 history majors in the class of 2015, leaving it tied as the seventh most popular major.

“The main reason to change the major is because a number of students and a number of faculty in the history department, acting as their advisors, had been finding it difficult to make sure students could navigate the major,” said Denery.

The history department conducted a survey of majors, minors and students in history courses and found that these were the areas with which students had the most trouble. 

“It was difficult for students particularly to fulfill those two requirements,” said Denery. 

These requirements were implemented in order to ensure a breadth in the courses students took. Denery stated that after adding the requirements, the major became too difficult for students to complete. 

Discussions on the changes in the major have been in the works for about a year but did not get serious attention until the summer  of 2014. 

“We wanted to wait to see how the current major worked out, but student frustration with the major didn’t seem to go away so last summer we had a series of meetings that these changes were a major focus of,” said Denery. 

The department spoke about it informally throughout the fall semester and at a staff meeting early this semester the department voted overwhelmingly in favor of the changes. They then submitted the changes to the CIC and are now awaiting approval.

“We don’t foresee many problems with it,” said Denery. 

Reactions to the change have been very positive. 

“I’m really excited,” said junior Allyson Gross, a double major in History and Government and Legal Studies.

Gross said that it was difficult to pick courses because there was so much structure around which courses fulfilled which requirements. 

“Lessening it is going to help me fulfill the rest of my requirements,” Gross said. “I was potentially going to drop down to a minor, but if that is what is going to happen, I can absolutely keep it.” 

Sophomore Benjamin Bristol is also pleased with the changes, particularly the reduction in non-Western course requirements. 

“The [reduction of non-Western history class] requirements is part of the reason I declared a history major,” said Bristol, who officially became a history major in February. “My interest is mainly in the Western realm so the thing keeping me from being a history major was the four class [non-Western] requirement.”