Class, Classes, and Classes of Classes: Where Do History Students Come from, and Where Do They Want to Go?

Sunday, January 7, 2018: 10:00 AM
Thurgood Marshall West (Marriott Wardman Park)
Andrew B. Arnold, Kutztown University
Starting in spring 2012 our enrollments crashed, and we are just now starting to see a way forward. Between 2010 and 2017 our University lost about 20% of its overall enrollment. History lost more. The University’s General Education program ceased requiring an introductory History Survey course. Secondary Education Social Sciences enrollment crashed by 80%. By 2012 the number of History majors declined by about half.

It was at this point that I became Department Chair.

Since that crash my department has been hunting for ways to fill classes and recruit History majors. We partnered with other departments such as Environmental Studies, Sciences, and Business. We touted associated Minors – History/Paralegal. History/Geography, and History/Geology. We publicized our successful alumni. We set up a defacto First Year Program for Undeclared students. We put all of our incoming Majors into Honors Introductory Survey Courses. We maintained our focus on teaching historical skills by keeping our classes small.

For non-History-Majors we offered: Conspiracies in American History, The Sixties, and a course entitled Rise of Hilter (sic). We have plans to offer “Introduction to World War II,” “Pop Culture, Music, and TV,” “Sports as Business,” and “History of Sports” to incoming non-Majors.

Some individual experiments have worked. Some haven’t. The chief outcome of these efforts? We have begun to build a culture of experimentation within our department among both faculty and students. It’s starting to pay off.

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