What History Majors Learn

Students in a circle in a classroom

  • Communication Skills: writing reports, essays, and correspondence in plain language; speaking effectively to groups and individuals; listening carefully and empathetically; portraying ideas clearly and imaginatively in a variety of formats tailored to particular audiences, such as visual media. (From William Zinsser, Writing to Learn)
  • Problem-Solving: defining a problem clearly; critically evaluating alternative courses of action; creating divergent solutions to a problem when more than one answer is possible.
  • Investigative Skills: identifying and locating people who have information relevant to a task or problem. Identifying source materials necessary to the solution of a problem.
  • Interpretive Skills: ability to sense the worth of an idea, to determine how to capitalize on it, and to sell the idea to the right people. Ability to assess an area of work in terms of its effect on an entire organization.
  • Human Relations: interacting cooperatively with others; communicating orders, instructions and feelings with openness and empathy; delegating tasks in ways that show respect for others and receptivity to new ideas; acquiring information from people who may be hard to reach or reluctant to divulge such information.
  • Learning Skills: By emphasizing the connection between formal education and work, higher education has advanced the idea that job success correlates directly with what one knows. Actually, the reverse is more often true. Persons successful in their work are mostly engaged with what they do not know. Thus, they have to be adept learners, which liberal arts majors invariably are, because of the breadth of their education.