CSUSB Advising Podcast

Ep. 27 - What is the History major?

May 22, 2022 Matt Markin Season 1 Episode 27
CSUSB Advising Podcast
Ep. 27 - What is the History major?
Show Notes Transcript

In Episode 27 of the CSUSB Advising Podcast, Matt Markin chats with History Department Chair, Dr. Tiffany Jones! What is the History major? What career opportunities are there? What resources does History have? Find out in this episode!

For more information on the History major, visit the CSUSB History Department.

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Transcription of episode

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Hey Yotes, welcome back to another episode of the CSUSB advising podcast. My name is Matt Markin. And on today's episode, we are finding out more about the history major at CSUSB. So who better to chat with and the history chair and that's Dr. Tiffany Jones. Dr. Jones, welcome to the podcast.

Thank you, Matt, for having me. I'm really excited to be here.

Yeah, I'm excited for you to be here too. And, and to learn more, as well as hopefully our students will be learning more about your major and everything that's going on within history. So before we get we jump into those questions, I think could be great to kind of get to know you a little bit better. So can you tell us a little bit about your background and how your path led you to CSUSB?

Yeah, so I was born during apartheid, South Africa, and I grew up in South Africa. And many people don't even know what a partakes of Africa was. But it was a racial segregationist system, where white people and black people were completely segregated. I grew up there until I was 16. And I then moved to Canada. My father's Canadian myself that my mother is South African. And when I went to Canada, I actually started learning South African history, which was not completely skewed. Because the apartheid government really had shaped the way that we were taught history from a very political perspective, so that it kind of justified their own actions. And I think that's when I started getting interested in history, but I was also interested in English at the same time. And then when I decided to go to university, I majored in both history and English. And I was really interested in African history. So I'm an African historian. But really, African history is very interdisciplinary. So I do a lot of African study stuff as well. And then I ended up studying in Canada got my three degrees in Canada. So I got a BA in English and History honors. And then I got an MA in history at Dalhousie University. And then I got a PhD in African history, from Queen's University in Canada. And I've been at CSUSB, I got my job at CSUSB, 16 years ago, and have been chair of the History Department for the last six years. And I absolutely love it here at CSUSB. And love the fact that I get to teach you exactly what I want to teach and do what I want to do. And I always say to everybody, do what you love, and successful follow. And so that's my advice for all students, if you love history, and I loved both English and history, so African history allows me to combine those two but and I think history just allows you to do whatever you want. We're a little we kind of steal from all disciplines, the way we do stuff. So yeah, we always encourage people, we get a lot of people who transfer over to history because they wanted to go into like, an AI field where they knew that we can ultimately get a job at the end, and be trained for that job. And they just transfer back into history. Because they love it. So that was kind of my path, too.

Yeah, absolutely. And appreciate you chatting about that. Because you know, you're talking about follow your passion, follow what you love. And you know, I think some people hear that and or have heard that before. And they're like, Oh, I can't really do that, you know, I gotta find some other job. And you're have proof that you are able to follow your passion and love. And you get to have a career out of that. And then also kind of talking about how you were able to combine some of your interest into what you do. And so it's not like a one or the other kind of thing. In this case, you were able to combine a lot of those interests. So hopefully, Yoties, you're listening to this. And you can honestly say, hey, there's actual proof that you can actually combine those interests and follow your passions. So thank you again for giving us that background. And so let's jump into the major. How would you describe the history major at CSUSB?

So I think people sometimes have a misconception as what history is, they kind of think that we're like these old fuddy duddies or go to archives, and like breathing dust, right? But actually, I think I here at CSUSB, we're very dynamic in how we approach history. So we like to actually do a lot of hands on. And so our history, we have a BA in history, and we also have a BA in public history, but really, there's a lot of interconnection between those and I can talk more a little bit about those in a little bit. But history is really discovering who you are, as a person where you come from. So it can be a personal journey, but it can also be one understanding how our society is and how, why humans do what they want to have continued to do. Sometimes it's different How it changes over time. It also teaches us a lot about, you know, society in general. And where we're going to go in the future. Sometimes we call it fortune tellers, although we're not the best fortune tellers, but sometimes. And then here at CSUSB, because we do a lot of community engagement, many of our students end up working in archives, or museums or national parks locally, as part of their internships. We have a museum study certificate, we also have a Egyptology certificate. So if you're interested in Egypt, which is a huge draw at here at CSUSB, we have one of the largest collections at RAFFMA Museum. And we have visiting Egyptologists every year. So we have some fun things going on there. We contribute as well to the GE program, we contribute to ethnic studies, we contribute to the MA in social sciences, we have our own masters of history, Masters of Arts and history. We also contribute to Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, department and native nations programs. So we kind of as I said, as I started, we kind of do still for multiple different disciplines. So, if there's something that you're interested in, you can kind of follow that path through history, and kind of understand how we are how we fit in the global community, how we fit in our local communities. And there's a lot of we're also very globally, like when students come and take history, we make sure that you take different parts of the world, right? Usually, most students are exposed to history, US history in high school, because that's the bulk of it. But when you come to university, you kind of learn how the US fits in the larger global world. And so we focus a little bit on that. And I think we proudly here at CSUSB offer a very global, you know, approach to the way we understand the world.

Yeah, sounds like it. Um, it kind of goes back when you were talking about like, one of the misconceptions, and yeah, I think, you know, sometimes in there, my mind immediately goes to, let's say, an older movie, like, let's say, Indiana Jones, and he's blowing the dust off of an artifact. And it's like, oh, that's, that's my idea of history. And it's like, you've kind of laid it out that no, history is connected to so many different things, whether it's just within here or globally, and you're talking about a couple of the majors. So you have like the BA in history, and then also the degree in public history. Can you talk more about those two bachelor's degree programs? And what are maybe some of the differences but how they're also interconnected? 

Sure, so we offer two degrees. So the BA in history, the BA in history has two concentrations, one is a general concentration, and that's for people who are interested in getting a traditional history degree, they may want to focus on one part of the world, they can focus on one time period in history, or they could focus on one theme. So let's say you're interested in women's history, or you're interested in race and racism, throughout history, they can construct an area of focus under that general concentration. And that's a great degree for people who may want to go on and do you know, become lawyers, or have a set kind of idea of where they want to go. Or just are not sure. And they can explore multiple different things. Then, under that a BA in history, we also have a pre credential concentration. This is for people who are wanting to become history or social studies, teachers in high school, and, or Middle School in high school often, and they it kind of prepares them to be able to teach in the high schools. And so we ensure they take classes that prepare them for the subjects that they're going to be teaching. It's also a very global focus, as well as they focus on US European history, world history. So all about concentrations have some core courses that you have to take world history, US history, and some later, like culminating projects that you actually end up doing. And then we have our BA in public history. And that's for people who are interested in working in the public field of history. So could be museums, archives, libraries, national parks, sometimes you may want to work for the government. And so it's prepares you it's a very professional degree. It's actually one of the few although some a lot of universities are now copying us, but it is one of the few undergraduate public history degrees that exists here in the in the US, and most, if you want us to study public history, it's usually a graduate degree that people do but we offer an undergraduate level, it's pretty intensive. And our students are trained specifically in the skills in professional preparation skills to work in industries. They also do a lot of internships, although you can do internships throughout any degree in any concentration that you want. And so it's a great degree for those people who are very career driven in public history. And so we have a lot of students who have gone on and have a lot of success who are working in local museums to working in Washington, DC, who work for national parks who work for the government, who have completed that undergraduate degree.

Yeah, definitely seems very, very involved, and that students really get some of that hands on experience as well through this major.

I do want to mention one other thing that I forgot to mention. Yeah, but our pre credential concentration under the BA in history, that also grant students if they complete one final class, if they get C's, and above grades in all their classes, if they complete one final course, they get the CSET waiver, the CSET is a test that people actually have to write in order to become teachers, and be admitted into our teaching credential program. We have now been approved, I think this is our second year where we were approved to get the CSET waiver. So if you complete the pre credential, you don't have to write it's a terrible long, standardized test. So you you no longer have to write that test. So that's, I think, a really important point that I just want to mention.

Oh, no. And I'm glad that you mentioned that. I think that's very much, I think, a great incentive as well. Because if you can waive an exam, why not take the class save some money? Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Cuz seems like there's charges for everything now. So you've mentioned about the bachelor degree programs, you talk a little about some of the certificates. Do you also offer a minor in in history? And how would a student know what would be like a difference between like a minor or certificate or bachelor's degree?

Yeah. So we do offer a minor in history. This is usually for students who have an interest in history. And they want to tack it on to let's say, another degree that they're focusing on let's, I think commonly it would be English, it would be political science, people who want to kind of combine their degrees. So the minor is much less required courses, there's some core courses, and then just a few classes that you take on upper division courses that you can take. And it's great to have a history minor. One of the things that we do in history is we focus a lot on writing, critical analysis skills, how to see big, the big picture, take little pieces, put it together. And so it gives students a really good opportunity to kind of explore different things through history. So if you are doing a, you know, even a language degree, or if you're doing a science degree, you can do a minor in history, I love history of medicine, because that's the other thing that I do, because I love the history of science and medicine. So I also teach it that see, you can do anything really you can make your own love and create a career out of it. But the so I we do actually get some of my favorite students, as are the BA in science students who do history minors, because they come at it with such a unique perspective. And I think they they love taking our classes, it gives them a freedom to explore things in a in a broader manner. So the minor is there. If you are interested in a certificate, it looks really good. If you are know that you want to work in museum, for example, it's it's just a lot more streamlined, where there's a lot specific classes that you can take, or if you know you want to work, you know, as an Egyptologist on a site, that certificate, you know, you also learn language skills. So it just better prepares you for whatever job that you're planning, once you graduate. And you can actually combine your certificate with your minor, you can combine your certificate with the major. So you're not like, you know, having to take extra classes, sometimes, you know, maybe it would just be one or two, the way we've constructed is there's a lot of overlap. So you can kind of graduate with a BA, as well as the certificate as well as a minor if you really needed to,

you're talking about taking an extra class to waive a CSET requirement. And now also knowing that a lot of these classes also overlap to where, yeah, if you had all these different interests and all connected, you could graduate and not really extend the time that you're at CSUSB because of the overlap with the classes. And you've talked a lot about two already in terms of how these programs the majors connect with different careers. Is there anything you want to add about career opportunities or about internships? Because I know sometimes we get the question of like, well, how do I do an internship is it a class that I'm registering for by going to the Career Center for it, how does it work with with history.

So, because we promote a lot of hands on activities, we like to incorporate students into research, we like to encourage students to do internships, there's multiple ways that you can actually do it. So, if you're a history major, you could potentially sign up for a course, and do the internship that way and, you know, accounts towards your graduation units. You can also work one on one with professors, we have some great courses on the books that you can sign up with. One is one that I did as an undergraduate student, that actually ended up making me a university professor. And I didn't know what it was when I signed up for it, but it's called a Research Opportunity Program, where you work one on one with a with a faculty member on their research project, and you can help out, and I did this as an undergraduate student at my old my alma mater. And they, I worked with a German historian, and just helping him, you know, codify his research, figure out the best technology, I was really strong in technology when I was younger, not anymore. But it was, it was a lot of fun. And I saw what professors do, I realize that they don't just teach, they also do research. So we have that opportunity as well. We also have a lot of faculty who are doing fun projects, even those who are interested in doing becoming history teachers, or social science teachers, a lot of the classes that you're taking, you're working on creating lesson plans for local teachers, using archives, original documents, so they can help with creating documents that teachers can actually use, and lesson plans. So we do a lot of that. We also do a lot of we promote study abroad programs. So I run a study abroad program to South Africa, every few years, I rotated with with Dr. Kelly Campbell, she's in psychology, and we often rotate the leadership of that. So I think it's my turn next year, which is fun. And then. So there's a lot of different opportunities that students often go to, they might travel a lot, they do international programs, and we will often count those as those classes. So there's a lot of different opportunities that will prepare you for the workforce. I think travel is a great one. But also work experience is really important. University is not just about coming and taking classes. It's about, you know, having experiences and having a lot of fun. So the history degree in particular, I think helps because you're learning most of our graduates end up not necessarily being historians, right. So, it's really hard for people because they're like, I know that parents always asked, What are you going to do with a history degree but not a teacher? What else are you going to do. But studies actually show the American Historical Association shows that people with history degrees often move up really quickly. In organizations, whatever it is, it could be a government organization, it could be a non government organization, it could be, you know, an education institution, they move up really quickly, because we learn critical analysis skills, we learn writing skills, we learn communication skills, and you're taught all of these different skills that help you. So we have, we have a page on our website that has alumni stories, and there's some great stories, we have people who have gone into business, we've had people who are working in public, you know, public history sites, national parks, people who are working in publishing, people that are working as journalists, you know, movies. So it really opens up a different avenues. So sometimes it's kind of unsure, people are unsure how to promote themselves. But we you are really being trained to work for a new workforce, that you need the skills that you can be adaptable, you can see different ideas and really understand them. And I think that actually helps prepare for the future jobs that sometimes we don't even know. Right, it could even be a social media analyst right now, a lot of them are history majors. So yeah, there's a lot of different jobs out there that you can do with your history degree. The traditional ones are teachers, lawyers, maybe sometimes going to government archives, those kinds of things, the traditional jobs, but there's a lot of different jobs that history majors actually end up doing. 

Yeah and I think based off that answer, you might have students listening that are thinking, maybe I may want to be interested in history. And so are there any introductory courses that you might recommend? And are there any courses that might also count for, let's say, like a general education requirement?

Yeah. So there's quite a few of our classes. Obviously, one of them is the American institutions requirement, GE requirements, so just the general history class, so it's history 1460 is a good one that every freshman needs. A lot of our transfer students are coming in with their class already. So there are some upper division capstone class that will they no longer called capstones anymore, but these upper division classes. So 300, level 3000 level. So, some of them are social science classes, and some of them are history classes. So there would be revolutions within a revolutionary history, I think it's called, which is the social science class. But we also have reacting the past, which is a freshman seminar, that's a fun one, where you actually go in and you act out a period of history. And that's taught across different colleges. But, you know, that is really a history class. There's also some history classes such as our Egyptian art class, or our images of Africa class, that is a GE class. The nice thing about history is that you, there's no prerequisites to any of our classes. So you can take any of our classes and we teach it as if you have no background in it. So anything of our 100 to about 4000 level, you could take a class if it interests you. The other two that also sometimes count in many majors and can count in the GE is the world history classes. So we have world history 1500, and which is I think, history 1400. And history, 1440 years World History from 1500 to today. And those are often large lecture classes. But as I said, you can take any of our courses, I get a lot of non history majors, taking my classes, because I do health and medicine as well. And we have a lot of non history majors, just taking many of our classes because they think it's going to be interesting. So you're more than welcome to take any of our classes, there's no prerequisites, we do kind of recommend that you at least try and have at least one writing course, before you take any of our upper division classes. But other than that they're open to any student. And we do teach a lot in the GE so I'm sure you can find a lot of our classes listed in your PAWS report.

And yeah, that's good to know about how the classes are structured and taught. But knowing that there's a variety of different kinds of classes, if you're interested, jump on in and take one and there's probably a good chance it's also going to count for a graduation requirement as well. And for your department. Are there any resources that your department offers, whether it's clubs or tutoring, scholarships, that sort of thing?

Yes. So this is the stuff I love the most the students who get involved and do amazing things. So our department is really incredible. The students in our department, they wow me every year with all their innovation. We have a history club that is very active, and they do a lot of different activities. We've done so many different strange things over the years, like worked in the local grave site and cleaned it up to movie nights to going out to museum visits. And so our history club is very active. Attached to our history club is the phi alpha theta. It's an honor society. It's a national organization. It wins awards every year for its activities. They often tutor in the local communities, students in history and social sciences, they often do a lot of volunteer work as well. And the Phi Alpha Theta society wins sometimes the best chapter award numerous times has won it numerous times, I think four times over the last few years. And they sponsor our history in the making journal, which is an undergraduate history, actually, it's a graduate history. It started off as an undergraduate history journal, and is now a graduate history journal. And we win numerous awards from first place to third place almost every year, I think it's been going on almost maybe 14-15 years. And, and it's purely students every it's publishes all our student papers. It's a student editorial board, you can take it as a course or you can just join the editorial board if you don't have the unit. And you learn how the publishing field works. You learn how to edit somebody else's work. And so there's a lot of opportunity there as well. And then beyond that, our students also do their own individual work. They're working in museums, they are creating exhibits. So we've had students create amazing exhibits, digital as well as physical exhibits in numerous museums around the community. There's numerous opportunities that are Palm Desert. There's a world forum that is sponsored as well. And many students get involved. Our students visit Washington DC. So there's a lot of different opportunities and activities going on in you know on a in our department.

Sounds like and you know, we tell students all the time, you know, it's not just about the classes, you know, try to get engaged and involved on campus. And you've just named so many different opportunities just within history that students can get involved and probably have a fun, exciting time doing it as well. So that's really great. 

And the more stuff you do outside of the class, the better it looks on your resume, right? When you're looking for that job. And I know when I was a student, I was always hungry. So I would join every club and eat as much of the free pizza and whatever food they offered. So I highly recommend join as many clubs as possible, because you get free food, it's really good.

100%. And as we wind down with this interview, if a student has a question, how can they reach out to your department? Sure. So

we often offer many different information sessions throughout the year. So we will be offering information sessions. So anytime often, it's via zoom or in person, we do that you can meet with any faculty member, all faculty members are trained in, you know, advising, we're here to talk particularly about career development, what you're interested in doing any classes, we give you suggestions for courses that you may be interested in, or even if you just want to come and chat. So we divide that advising up amongst all our faculty as just make any office hours, you can come to the chairs, office hours as well. And then we also do often students go to the professional advisors just to learn about courses. But, you know, we were kind of sometimes lonely and office hours, we want the students to come and chat to us. And so yeah, we highly encourage just come by, you can find out our office hours on our website, every faculty member list their office hours there. And then we also have a website has all the exciting news because we have tons of guest speakers and a lot of different events going on. Our faculty won awards, and there's all sorts of stuff. So we try and keep our news up to date. And then our advising page is also up on our website, and it tells you where you can go to get information, who you should contact, all our contact information is there as well.

Yeah, I'm glad you talked about how the faculty are available to chat with, you know, because I think sometimes students might think, oh, that there were my professor for the class, but I can't really talk to him about anything else. And it's kind of like, well, who better to chat with about that major than the faculty actually teaching it. And so you can chat with your professors about the class that you're in, but also about various opportunities, activities, maybe even changing to that major. So definitely chat with with you, with other faculty within your department. And you're referencing the website, so Yoties, if you have want more information, go to their website csusb.edu/history. So thank you, Dr. Jones, for being on the podcast today.

Oh, you're welcome. was lots of fun.

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