Understanding the Past to Inform the Future: Patrick Henry College’s History Major

Understanding the Past to Inform the Future: Patrick Henry College’s History Major

What does it mean to study history at Patrick Henry College?

What does it mean to study history? It means unraveling the narrative of humanity to understand who we are, where we have been, and where we are going. In order to understand anything about the current era, it is important to understand the significant events and figures of the past.

But what does it mean to study history from a Christian perspective? Patrick Henry College’s history program provides an answer. Students are challenged to master the tools of first-class scholarship to analyze historical topics in depth and to defend their conclusions with rigor and intellectual honesty.

Patrick Henry College seeks to equip students to lead the world for Christ and for Liberty through a classical, Christian, liberal arts education. The History major provides students with a thorough understanding of western civilization through an unwavering biblical worldview.

Patrick Henry Major Requirements

All History majors at Patrick Henry College are required to take core courses in U.S. history, the history of Western civilization, and the philosophy and methodology of history. For students interested in historical topics outside of the U.S. and the West, there are electives in the history of Russia, China and the Middle East. Patrick Henry College also offers history electives on thematic topics like Islam. In the senior year, a major project caps a History major’s curriculum:  a year-long senior thesis based upon primary source research.

In addition to major-specific courses, Patrick Henry College students are required to complete an extensive 63-credit core that demands high academic rigor. The core consists of courses in logic, rhetoric, mathematics, geometry, music, science, history, literature, theology, apologetics, economics, foreign languages, constitutional law, and political theory. It is designed with the purpose of laying a common foundation for advanced learning in each major.

Having a 63-credit core can be seen as a disadvantage because it would lead to more broad courses and less specialized major courses. However, since Patrick Henry College includes rigorous academic programs and employs an intense apprenticeship methodology, this is not the case.

The goal of studying history is to learn about significant cultural movements, study the greatest minds of Western civilization, and understand one’s place in it today. Students with this depth of knowledge are able to go into a wide variety of successful career paths.

Why Study History at Patrick Henry College?

History is an underrated area of society today. The common misconception is that the only career path for historians are museum curators or half-broke writers. But having the depth of knowledge that Patrick Henry College’s History major provides gives students so much more—it prepares them for life after college and beyond by giving them a look at history from a uniquely Christian perspective.

“If you do what I do for a living—if you’re a Christian and a college professor—PHC is the Promised Land. My students are smart, but more than that they are curious and want to learn. They make it possible for me to teach via Socratic Method; I couldn’t do that at my previous college positions. My students are also fabulously kind to me, so much so that I end up regarding them as both friends and partners in the academic process,” Professor of History Dr. Robert Spinney said.

If you are looking for a place to learn about the foundations of Western civilization from a Christian perspective and be prepared to teach, write, or a wide variety of other careers after graduation, Patrick Henry College is the ideal school.

Fidelity to the Spirit of the American Founding

Part of what makes Patrick Henry College unique is that it focuses on three important distinctives where most schools only have one of two. These distinctives are high academic rigor, fidelity to the spirit of the American founding, and a commitment to an unwavering biblical worldview. Patrick Henry College is the only college in the nation dedicated to all three distinctives.

The founders of Patrick Henry College recognized a significant lack of biblical principles in higher education as well as an underdeveloped knowledge of the important values of America’s founding. They decided that this was an unacceptable status quo in higher education and desired to fill the void. Patrick Henry College was their solution.

As a Christian, liberal arts institution, Patrick Henry College endeavors to not only preserve the important values of freedom and liberty articulated during America’s founding, but it also desires to foster an environment where students are able to learn how to think about the world around them by understanding the past while lifting high both faith and reason.

Unwavering Biblical Worldview

Because of Patrick Henry College’s unwavering biblical worldview, it would seem that a study of Western civilization’s roots or America’s founding would present moral conflicts. After all, what is Christian about the pagan literature of the Greeks and Romans who were polytheists, or the trends of humanism prevalent throughout numerous civilizations?

Patrick Henry College believes that through a complete and comprehensive study of Greek and Roman culture is crucial to understanding Christianity in its entirety. Understanding other contexts and important philosophical ideas is a vital part of strengthening one’s faith.

Patrick Henry College seeks to provide a classical, Christian, liberal arts education that gives students a complete and comprehensive look at history so they are best informed. Understanding the importance of biblical values throughout history is vital to understanding them today.

The focus of Patrick Henry College is to make God the focus and pursuing His truth the end of education, be it spiritual, moral, philosophical, or scientific. Will students encounter dark moments in history, non-Christian thinkers, and man-centered cultures? Yes, but a quality education is not dogmatically focused on one perspective, instead God’s truth can be found in the interwoven threads of history.

The Christian faith and a high-quality liberal arts education cannot be separated. Instead, our Christian faith precedes and informs all that we at Patrick Henry College study, teach, and learn. History is the study of man’s past, but it is also the study of God’s narrative of creation, fall, redemption, restoration.

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