Why Study History?

Atilla the hun riding a horse into battle

“Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it …”

So goes a famous aphorism. Study of the past carries great relevance for the present and future. To know the history of one’s own culture and community is to know oneself. Just as the amnesiac has lost not only memory but identity, so people without a consciousness of their past (both failures and triumphs) have forfeited an understanding of who they are.

To go further, to learn the history of other cultures and communities — ancient and modern, Western and non-Western — is to grasp the grand tapestry of human creativity and tragedy, to see both commonalities and differences among cultures, to trace both continuities and changes from era to era, and thus to identify with the whole of humanity.

What’s different about historical study at SPU?

SPU, with its Wesleyan and evangelical heritage, strives explicitly to foster learning in the context of Christian faith, practice, and character. Every history professor here sees beyond the human story to the acts of the God of history, who took on humanity at a moment in time in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.

Let it be said: No glib judgments or design to indoctrinate here. We dare not presume to pronounce when and how and why God should act. But we affirm that history gains vibrant meaning in the light of sacrifice and resurrection. And, as scholars of both the brutality and majesty of the human story, we embrace God’s good news of hope, for all humankind, for all of history yet to come.

Where is it online?

Looking for research and teaching resources? Want to connect with other historians and researchers? Try these sites:

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