Art by Madeline Duvall
Many students take HIST 204, Humanities and World Civilizations only because Pepperdine requires these classes to graduate. However, there are great benefits to studying history, and students should take full advantage of them. By learning about history, students examine what truly makes people human and can understand others who are not like them while learning to accept and appreciate different cultures.
Instead of just getting these classes over with, students should understand that learning about the past helps them understand what it means to be human, by informing them of different cultures, even of those in the United States. “Understanding the linkages between past and present is absolutely basic for a good understanding of the condition of being human,” Penelope J. Corfield wrote in her article “All people are living histories — which is why History matters,” published by Making History in 2008.
By understanding how different societies were formed, people can understand how certain perspectives have formed. Many people might find their identity in the history of their area. “By studying at the various tributaries of humanity, a broad cultural awareness is yours for the taking,” according to The Complete University Guide in the article “7 Reasons to Study History” published in 2018.
History also gives people an avenue to discuss morals. Students can discuss and learn from events in the past. In order to progress, society must understand what has gone wrong in the past and not make those same mistakes in the future.
Students can analyze past situations and discover what caused terrible events and what brought about good. By being able to recognize these things in history, people can identify those patterns in the present and know what to condemn and what to condone.
History can also give people new perspectives. According to Robert Eaglestone’s book “Studying English: A Guide for Literature Students,” the Dutch East-India Company wanted to make the Indian people they were exploiting think like British people. Since they were no longer allowed to use Christianity to achieve that end, they taught them British literature instead, and thus they created the English subject as it is known today.
People who know the origin of the English subject will be more aware of the biases in fiction, and because of this, they will read stories more carefully. Information on origins of anything can give people new insight into what they thought that they already knew.
History also helps give better context to other classes. By learning about other time periods, students are provided more context in how people of the past used to think. Many classes discuss elements of their subjects that occurred in the past, such as English, psychology, philosophy, religion, biology and chemistry.
For example, even though most of Freud’s theories have been proven false, they are still studied in a historical context because they formed psychological opinions in their time and can help us dissect other works from his time. People must understand the culture of ancient Israel in order to understand the Bible more fully. Classes like HIST 204, Humanities and World Civilizations look at how these facts connect to form today’s cultures in the United States and around the world.
By learning what was going on in the world in the past, a person can connect to the context of a subject and get a fuller understanding of the information. “Without history — religion and philosophy, the arts and sciences, mathematics, language, music and literature have no meaning,” wrote Bill Potter in his article “Why History is the Most Important Subject You Teach,” published Dec. 10, 2013 by Landmark Events.
Even though Pepperdine students have to take these classes, they should try to get the most that they can out of them. Pepperdine has instilled these general education classes in the curriculum for a reason. By learning more about the history of different people as well as one’s own, students can better understand the present.
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