Department of History

Mission and Goals

Ethel Berry and her sister "Tot" Bush pan for Eldorado Creek gold while Clarence Berry shovels black sand and gold out of the sluice box. Photo courtesy of William F. Berry
Ethel Berry and her sister "Tot" Bush pan for Eldorado Creek gold while Clarence Berry shovels black sand and gold out of the sluice box. Photo courtesy of William F. Berry

The History Department seeks to acquaint students not only with facts and narratives about the past and change over time, but also with the methods and tools historians use when constructing narratives. Focus on both fact and method gives students better ability to critically analyze the problems that have faced human population across history and how humans have addressed those problems. Coursework should stimulate discussion and consideration of questions of historical identity, such as the role of the nation state in history, the uses and abuses of history as well as specific narratives or “stories” about events and people from the past. Our goal is the production of students with sophisticated critical thinking skills directed not only at the past but potentially any field of academic inquiry.

We seek to continue providing a well-balanced program in our established areas of strength – America, East Asia, Europe, and the North – while expanding our ability to guide students in the study of Native American history, comparative world history, environmental history, and diverse methodological fields. This geographical and methodological not only provides the basis of what is generally considered to be a basic Liberal Arts program in History, but also develops good citizens for Alaska with high-level knowledge of Alaska’s needs, its relation to the world, and how these factors have changed over time. Although we are primarily an undergraduate faculty, we offer graduate level courses through the Northern Studies Program, especially the concentration in Northern history.


Western History Association at UAF

The Western History Association has selected UAF as its institutional sponsor and the new location for its office.  Under the terms of the five-year renewable agreement, begun July 1 of this year, History Department Chair and Professor John Heaton will serve as the association's executive director.  Founded in 1961, the nonprofit organization is composed of approximately 1,400 scholars and teachers devoted to the study of the history of the North American West.