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Mission Statement

and Learning Objectives

The Mission Statement

The Washington and Lee History Department provides students with a better understanding of their world through a disciplined examination of people and events of the past. Members of the department teach factual information, but they primarily convey the significance of scholarly debates and different interpretations of history. They instill a rich appreciation of the past that makes possible an intelligent understanding of the present and the ability to make informed choices in the future.


Members of the history department strive to:

1. Develop historical literacy, which includes one or more of the following skills:

a. To identify significant information in a historical document, visual image, or other primary source, and to construct narrative of a historical event from a group of primary sources.

b. To identify the key points in scholarly arguments and/or theories, assess their strengths and weaknesses, and analyze conflicts between diverging arguments or discrepancies between rival theories.

c. To integrate the analysis of primary and secondary sources, applying information that the student has discovered in primary sources to the evaluation of a scholarly disagreement.

2. Develop critical writing skills to convey historical knowledge

3. Develop oral communication skills to convey historical knowledge.


The skills taught by the history department prepare students to pursue a wide range of careers, most notably in the fields of law, business, teaching, journalism, public service, international affairs, museum management, publishing, and archival curatorship.


The history department welcomes and challenges both its majors and those other students who sample our courses to round out their liberal arts education.