History at The College of Wooster

History is one of the oldest fields of knowledge, but it has never been more relevant than in the fast-changing, interconnected world in which we live.

The study of history is the foundation for a complex understanding of the world. It offers a rich view upon the developments that have shaped the societies we live in; it helps us understand different cultures; it provides a set of rigorous tools for understanding changes and continuities over time; and it offers a high perspective to make sense of the tumult of current events.

The study of history cultivates skills and habits of mind that are essential to a liberal arts education. Students of history will develop the ability to research complex topics, to analyze evidence, to assess conflicting interpretations, to convey ideas with clarity and persuasion, and to build strong arguments. History encourages a subtle understanding of difference. What is more, the study of history provides a set of deep pleasures. Vastly enlarging our experience, the study of the past is a profound source of personal meaning and collective identity.

At Wooster we believe the best way to study history is to do history. In their coursework, students will develop a wide knowledge of the past and a practical understanding of the skills of the historian, culminating in the year-long Senior Independent Study. In classes and seminars, in the weekly I.S. meetings, in departmental colloquia, over lunch with students, and in the corridors and offices of Kauke Hall, faculty offer their perspectives, argue over interpretations, challenge students to think in new ways, and encourage students to ask hard questions.


Beatrice Adams portrait

Beatrice Adams

Assistant Professor of History


Jordan Biro Walters

Jordan Biro Walters

Associate Professor of History


James Bonk

James Bonk

Visiting Assistant Professor of Chinese Studies; East Asian Studies; History


Joan Friedman

Joan Friedman

Professor of History and Religious Studies; Department Chair of History


gray silhouette outline of a person

Madonna Hettinger

Lawrence Stanley Chair and Professor of Medieval History; Pre-Law Program


Katherine Holt

Katherine Holt

Associate Professor of History; Latin American Studies; Global and International Studies Department Chair; Liaison to Digital and Visual Storytelling Pathway


Margaret Ng

Margaret Wee Siang Ng

Associate Professor of History; Archaeology; Chinese Studies


Peter Pozefsky

Peter Pozefsky

Michael O. Fisher Professor of History, Global and International Studies; Russian Studies


Jeff Roche

Jeff Roche

Professor of History


Ibra Sene associate professor of history at college of wooster

Ibra Sene

Associate Professor of History; Global & International Studies


Greg Shaya

Greg Shaya

Professor of History and Global Media & Digital Studies


Angela Sponsler

Angela Sponsler

Administrative Coordinator of Political Science, Global and International Studies, History, Latin American Studies


Christina Welsch

Christina Welsch

Assistant Professor of History; Global and International Studies; South Asian Studies


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Students can choose from more than 50 history courses to design a major course of study that fits their interests. Of the 11 courses needed to meet the requirements for a history major, at least one course must be related to events before 1800 and at least one course must be on the history of a society outside the United States and Europe.

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Six history courses are needed to meet the requirements for a history minor, and students can choose from the more than 50 history courses offered at Wooster. At least one course of the six must cover events before 1800 and one course must be focused on a society outside the United States and Europe.

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Independent Study

All students in History complete three semesters of Independent Study: a one-semester Junior Independent Study, and the two-semester Senior Independent Study.

The goal of History 401Junior Independent Study is to help students develop their skills as historians in order to prepare the way for Senior I.S. The course is taught as a tutorial, with weekly one-on-one meetings. Under the guidance of a faculty advisor, students develop, research, and write about a historical topic. Students have the opportunity to develop a valid historical question, conduct research in primary and secondary sources, frame a historical argument, and write a research paper of significant scope. They also learn the time-management skills that are necessary to complete Senior I.S. History 401 can be taken in the fall or the spring semester.

History 451-2: Senior Independent Study is the culmination of the History curriculum. With the guidance of a faculty advisor, students design a research project, gather evidence, and present their conclusions in a formal thesis. Working one-on-one with a faculty advisor and engaging in the debates of professional historians, History majors develop the practical and analytical skills necessary for tackling problems not only in history but also in matters of contemporary concern.

There are few limits to the kinds of subjects that can be pursued for a Senior I.S. In the last few years, students have studied Japanese animation, the “Lost Cause Mythology” of the Civil War, conflict diamonds in Africa, British seaman and their pranks in the Napoleonic era, the CIA in Cold War Berlin, cemetery preservation in Wayne county, the economy of Côte d’Ivoire, and many, many other topics.

There are alternative models for the presentation of historical research as well. Wooster students have successfully completed their Senior I.S. by producing a film documentary, mounting a public history exhibition, writing a historical novel, and developing a high school curriculum.


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If you love the study of history, you will find the history program at Wooster to be an excellent preparation for your future.
Our graduates have gone on to prominent careers in academia, law, medicine, business, government, intelligence,
print and broadcast journalism, political advocacy (environmentalism, poverty, civil rights, peace activism, etc.), foreign service, politics, work in museums and archives, public history, foundation work, library science, teaching at the primary and secondary levels, and more.

Recent graduates have gone on to advanced studies in prestigious programs at Columbia University, Cornell University, Indiana University, New York University, The University of California, the University of Michigan, Vanderbilt University, and elsewhere.

Read more stories about Wooster history graduates on The Department of History blog.

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Prizes & Scholarships


The Robert G. Bone History Prize is awarded to that person having completed the junior year with a major in history who best exemplifies the qualities of Robert G. Bone ’28: enthusiasm for learning; unbridled curiosity about life; and unbounded kindness toward others.

The Cummings-Rumbaugh History Prize honors the memory of Mildred Rumbaugh Cummings and Clarence W. Cummings. Mr. Cummings was a member of the class of 1912. It is awarded to seniors with high academic standing.

The Aileen Dunham Prize in History was established in 1965 in honor of Professor Aileen Dunham, Chairperson of the Department of History, 1946-1966. It is awarded annually to the senior major who has attained the highest rank in history.

The James R. Turner Prize in History was established in his memory in 1986. Professor Turner was a member of the History Department from 1969 to 1986. The History Prize is awarded to the student with the most distinguished Junior Independent Study Thesis.

Endowed Funds

The Lawrence Stanley Summer Research Program Endowment in History was established in 2007 by Laura Stanley Gunnels in honor of her father and the 50th anniversary of the class of 1958. Mrs. Gunnels shared with her father an interest and passion for history and established the summer research endowment to support student research in history. Her intent is for students to develop the passion and habits of mastery that will advance the study of history in perpetuity. First preference is given to students following their first-year at Wooster. Each student is partnered with a faculty research advisor.


The Aileen Dunham Scholarship in History was established in 1965 in honor of Professor Aileen Dunham, Chairman of the Department of History, 1946-1966. It is awarded annually to a student who has achieved excellence in history courses and who demonstrates financial need.

The Helen K. and Ernest S. Osgood Scholarship Fund was established in 1984 by Helen Kaslo Osgood, a member of the History Department for thirty years beginning in 1951. In 1958 she married Ernest S. Osgood, Emeritus Professor of History, University of Minnesota. His activities at Wooster included advising Independent Study students in history, which gave him much pleasure. The scholarship is awarded annually, in consultation with the Department of History, to a junior or senior history major who has demonstrated high academic achievement and financial need.

The David O. Wise Endowed Scholarship was established by David Wise, a member of the Class of 1969, to honor his 50th reunion and the outstanding faculty mentors he had as a student at the College. Income from the fund shall be awarded each year to a rising senior History major who has demonstrated the highest academic achievement within the Department of History, including Junior Independent Study, and who also has demonstrated financial need.