GHIST 225 introduces students to the central themes of American political and social history. Knowledge of our past is necessary in order to understand the present. Thus, we study United States history in order to better understand the major themes and concepts that shape American life today. The course examines the nature and growth of the intellectual concepts that structure American political activity, the operation of democratic institutions and explores the development of American society. The course examines, for example, questions about how Americans have understood justice, what it means to live in a free society, and about how best to understand and achieve the common welfare of American citizens. Because the United States has interacted with many parts of the world throughout its history, the course also stresses the evolution of American involvement in global affairs.
Through a combination of lectures that provide historical context and understanding and the reading and analysis of documents, GHIST 225 highlights the interaction of people, ideas and social movements across United States history, and illuminates these connections in the present. Most GHIST 225 courses meet for three hours each week, usually for lectures. Students in GHIST 225 break out into more focused “discussion sections” for an additional hour each week. These smaller discussion sections typically focus on developing reading, writing, or oral presentation skills, as well as on the analysis of primary source documents. They offer students the opportunity to learn from the GHIST 225 faculty in a smaller and more intellectually intense setting.