So What CAN You Do With a History Major" series here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home. (I have also included a chapter on this subject in my forthcoming Why Study History?: Reflecting on the Importance of the Past).
As Tony Grafton and James Grossman note in their recent article in The Chronicle of Education, we need to hear more stories like the ones I have collected. These are stories about classics majors who become military surgeons, employers who want potential employees to know something about the company history, and neurologists who learned to do research by writing a senior thesis on the history of the death of Captain Cook.
Here is a taste of their piece:
...We also need to hear the voices of those whose lives are touched by
these humanities majors after college, whether at the workplace or in
What makes some students believe that being humanists will make them
better doctors, better lawyers, better advertising experts? What do they
find, in their courses, to keep them in departments of English and
history and Romance languages? How are we helping them to articulate
what they bring to the world beyond the university, so they can tell
those stories more effectively? How can we make those stories available
to new undergraduates as they decide what to study?
It's not by worrying about the numbers, in the end, that we will find
out what we're doing right and what we're doing wrong as teachers. Nor
is it by closing our ears (not to mention our minds) to the various
communities beyond the academy in which our former students live and
work—and in which we live and work.
It's by listening, as humanists do best, to stories, and seeing what
the narratives can teach us. Open your ears and—we promise you—you'll
hear stories that don't resemble what you read in the media.
So once again, if you were a history major who is employed in a non-history-related field but who draws upon the skills you learned as a history major in your current job, we want to hear from you! Please consider writing a piece or being interviewed for our So What CAN You Do With a History Major series.