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Undergraduate Program

Fall 2021 Welcome

The University of Rochester history major offers students the analytic skills to interrogate our understanding of the past from medieval times to the present. The BA in history is a flexible major that consists of 10 courses, although many students exceed that number.

Through close collaboration with faculty, our majors learn to conduct independent research on environmental history, colonialism, immigration, race, science, warfare, food systems, witchcraft, and any other number of subjects. Moreover, students learn how to develop argumentative reasoning techniques and hone their writing skills whether working on digital databases, rare archival materials, primary source readers, or literary collections.

History students also have considerable research opportunities through the HOUR Program, the Seward Family Project Digital Archive, the honors program and other initiatives.

First-Year and Transfer Students

Students interested in history should enroll in one or two 100- or 200-level HIST courses during their first year at Rochester. These courses provide a foundational base of knowledge for advanced seminars and research.

First-years are especially encouraged to enroll in HIST 167M: Meliora Seminars. We encourage students to complete HIST 200: Gateway to History, during their first two years as well. The gateway courses introduce students to the practice of history and prepare them for work at the 300-level. Contact for more information.

Transfer students should schedule a meeting to talk with Professor Pablo Sierra, director of undergraduate studies by emailing

Suggested Fall 2021 courses

HIST 167M-1: Thoreau's Nature (Meliora Seminar)
This first-year seminar puts the class in motion by reading, journaling, walking, computer-game playing, and social networking in engagement with three of Henry David Thoreau’s major literary works.

HIST 167M-2: Unequal, Unjust: 100 Years of Racism in American Public Health (Meliora Seminar)
This first-year seminar is designed to deepen students’ understanding of historical processes in American healthcare and to enrich current debates over American health care policy making.

HIST 102: The West and the World
This introductory course explores the history of Europe and its neighbors from the ancient to the medieval period.

HIST 110: The Making of Modern Africa
This course uses film, novel, and historical studies to examine how African men and women have sought to redefine their place in the global economy.

HIST 133: USSR and Post-Soviet Russia
This class examines the history of the Soviet Union from foundation (1917) to collapse (1991), focusing on internal developments in the Russian part of the Union.

HIST 143: Modern China
This course traces China's transformation from an empire to a republic, from republic to Communist state, and from Communist state to the economic powerhouse that it is today.

HIST 145: Modern Japan
This class covers modern Japanese history from the 1800s to the present through books, archives, films, and anime.

HIST 149: America's Latinos
This course uses focuses on the relationship of Latinos, now more than 60 million people of diverse nationalities and ethnicities, to American society.

HIST 150: Colonial Latin America
This class focuses on the Spanish and Portuguese conquests of the region that we now know as Latin America from the late 1490s to the Latin American independence movements.

HIST 156: Cuba: A Communist Country on America's Doorstep
This course examines Cuba from colonial times through the 20th century to its involvement with the Soviet Union and the Cold War between the two super powers.

HIST 189: Wives, Witches, and Wenches: Women in American History
This course will examine how social categories such as race, class, sexuality, and religion have shaped women's historical experiences from the Revolutionary War to the protest movements of the 1960s.

HIST 191: Contested Futures: Religion and Science in the US
This class centers on the 19th and 20th century through deism, Spiritualism, mind cures, the Scopes Trial, agnosticism and new atheism, climate change, and anti-vaccination in the US.

HIST 200: Gateway: Frontier in World History
This Gateway class (required for the history major) explores how historians have explored frontiers—physical, religious, political, linguistic, cultural— as barriers but also sites for cultural exchange.

HIST 210/W: Africa Welcomes China in a New Global Economy
This course examines how China has found in Africa a reliable supplier of natural resources while Africans look to China for aid and investments in agriculture, industry, infrastructure, and education.

HIST 227/W: Podcasting History: Hear UR
Students in this history-oriented podcast research, develop, and produce one season of episodes for Hear UR on a subject related to the environmental history of Rochester.

HIST 250: Digital Paleography: Deciphering Early Modern Spanish
Learn how to read, analyze, and transcribe Spanish writing from Mexico, Spain, Puerto Rico, the 1500s-1700s in this new and interactive two-credit course (class meets once a week).

HIST 289/W: Visionaries, Mystics, Saints: Medieval and Renaissance Europe
This course examines the notion of sainthood and the linked phenomena of mysticism, visions, and sanctity through an introduction to major scholarship on the field.