CSUSB Advising

Ep. 27 - What is the History major?

May 22, 2022 Matt Markin Season 1 Episode 27
CSUSB Advising
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

Hey Yoties, welcome back to another episode of the CSU SB 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 than 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 get. 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 jumped into those questions, I think it 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 CSU? Yeah. So I was born during apartheid, South Africa, and I grew up in South Africa. Um, and many people don't even know what a partake South Africa was, but it was a racial, segregationist, um, system where white people and black people were completely segregated.

Um, I grew up there until I was 16 and, uh, I then moved to camp. Um, my father is Canadian myself. My mother is south African. And when I went to Canada, I actually started learning so African history, which was not completely skewed, um, because the apartheid government really had shaped the way that we were taught history from a very political perspective so that it, it kind of justified their own actions.

Um, 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. Um, and then I ended up studying in Canada, got my three degrees in Canada. So I got a BA. 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 Queens university in Canada, and I've been at CSU USB.

I got my job at CSU SB 16 years ago and have been chair of the history department for the last six years. And absolutely love it here at CSU SB and love the fact that I get to teach exactly what I want to teach and do what I want to do. And I always said to everybody do what you love and successful follow.

And so that's my advice for all students, if you've loved 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, uh, 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 a field where they knew that were going to ultimately get a job at the end, um, and be trained for that job. And they just. Transfer back into history, um, because they love it. So that was kind of my path to, yeah, absolutely.

And appreciate you chatting and about that because you know, you know, when you talk 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 got to find some other job and you're have proof that you are able to follow your passion, right.

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 interests into, uh, 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, um, hopefully Yoda that you're listening to this and, and.

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 CSU is. 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. Um, but actually I think I hear a CSU as be, we're very dynamic in how we approach history. So we like to actually do a lot of hands on. Um, and so our history, we have a BA in history and we also have a BA in public history.

Really, there's a lot of interconnection between those. And I can talk more a little bit about those in a little bit, but, um, 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.

Um, sometimes it's different how it changes over time. It also teaches us a lot about, um, you know, society in general and, uh, where are we going to go in the future? Sometimes we call it fortune tellers or that we're not the best fortune tellers, but sometimes, and then here at CSU SB, because we do a lot of community engagement.

Many of our students end up with. 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 CSU SB, we have one of the largest collections at Rathman museum and, uh, 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, um, the ma in social sciences. We have our own masters of, um, history master's of arts in history. Uh, 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 from 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. Um, 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, um, us history in high school. Cause that's the bulk of it. But when you come to university, you kind of. Learn how the U S fits in the larger global world.

And so we focus a little bit on that. Um, and I think we're proudly here at CSU is B offer a very global, you know, approach to the way, uh, we understand the. Yeah, it 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 my mind immediately goes to, let's say an older movie, like in, let's say Indiana Jones and he's blowing the dust off of an artifact and it's like, oh, that's.

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, uh, 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 interconnect.

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, um, time period. In history, all they could, uh, 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, um, under that general concentrate. 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, um, 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 becomes in history or social studies. In high school and, um, or middle school and high school often. And they, it kind of prepares them to be able to teach in the high schools.

Uh, 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 of our concentrations have some cool courses that you have to take, um, world history, us history, and some, uh, later like, um, 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 it could be museums, archives, libraries, national parks. Sometimes you may want to work for the government. Um, and so it's prepares you. It's a very professional degree. It's actually one of the few.

Some, a lot of universities are now copying us, but it is one of the few undergraduate public history degrees that exist here in the U S and most, uh, if you want us to study public history, it's usually a graduate degree that, um, people do, but we offered at an undergraduate level. It's pretty intensive and our students are trained.

Specifically in the skills and 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. Um, 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 had a lot of success who are working in local museums, who were watching, uh, working in Washington, DC, who worked for national parks, who worked for the government. Who have completed that undergraduate? 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, but I'll pre credential concentration under the BA in history that also grad students, if they complete one final clause, if they get. And, um, and above grades in all their classes, if they complete one final course, they get the SEASET waiver.

The seaside is a test that people actually have to write in order to become teachers and be admitted into our teaching credential program. Uh, we have now been approved. I think this is our second year where we were approved to get the SEASET waiver. So, if you complete the pre credential, you don't have to write, it's a terrible long standardized test.

So you no longer have to, uh, write that test. So that's, I think a really important point. I just want to mention, oh, no. And I'm glad that you mentioned that. I think that's very, very much, I think a great incentive as well know. If you can wave an exam, why not take the class? Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Cause it seems like there's charges for everything now.

So you've mentioned about the bachelor's degree programs. Uh, you talked 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 a certificate or a bachelor's or. Yeah. So we do offer a minor in history.

This is usually for students who have an interest in history, um, and they want to tack it on to let's say another, uh, degree that they're focusing on. Let's say, 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 a much less required courses.

There's some core courses. And then just a few classes that you. Um, 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, um, 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. Cause that's, that's the other thing that I do cause I love the history of science and medicine.

So I also teach it now and see, you can do anything really. You can make your own, um, love and created career out of it. But the, um, so I, we do actually get some of my favorite students. 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 the certificate, it looks really good. If you are no, that you want to work in museum, for example, it's, it's just a lot more. Uh, 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, uh, that a 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 had. 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 a certificate, as well as a minor.

If you really needed to, you were talking about taking an extra class to, to waive a SEASET requirement. And now also knowing that a lot of these classes also overlap to where yeah. If you had all these different interests and it all connect. You could graduate and not really extend the time that you're at CSU be because of the overlap with the classes.

And you've talked a lot about too already in terms of how these programs, the majors connect with different careers. Um, is there anything you want to add about career opportunities or about internships? Because I know sometimes we get the question. Well, how do I do an internship? Is it a class that I'm registering for my 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. Uh, 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 it 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, uh, 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, he, my Alma mater. Um, and they, uh, 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, um, it was a lot of fun and I still, what professors do, I realized that they don't just teach.

They also do research. So we have that, um, opportunity as. We also have a lot of faculty who are doing fun projects. Uh, 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 we're creating, um, you know, documents that teachers can actually use and lesson plans.

So we do a lot of that. Um, 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, uh, Dr. Kelly Campbell. She's in psychology and we often rotate, uh, the leadership of that. So I think it's my turn next year, which is fun.

And then, uh, so there's a lot of different opportunities of students often go to. They might travel a lot. They do international programs and we will often count those pro those classes. So there's a lot of different opportunities that all prepare you for the workforce. I think travel is a great one, but also work experience is really important.

A 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. 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 ask, 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 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. Cause 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. Um, you know, So it really opens up 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 social media analysts right now, a lot of them are for my history majors. So yeah, there's a lot of different jobs out there that you can do with your history degree, but traditional ones are teaching.

Lawyers, um, maybe sometimes going to government, um, archives, those kinds of things, that 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. Hmm, maybe I may want to be interested in, 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.

So it's history 1, 4, 6, 0 is a good one that every freshmen needs. A lot of our transfer students are coming in with that class already. So there are some upper division capstone class, will they no longer call capstones anymore, but these upper division classes, um, so 300 level, 3000 level. Uh, so some of them are social science classes and some of them are history classes.

So there would be revolutions within Revolut, uh, revolutionary. I think it's called, which is the social science class, but we also have, um, reacting the past, which is a freshmen 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, uh, you know, that is really a history class. Um, There's also, uh, 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, uh, 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.

Um, so anything of. 100 to about 4,000 level. You could take a class if it interests you at 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, two 1500. And which is, I think history 14,000 and history, 1440 is 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. Taking my classes cause I do health and medicine as well. And uh, we have a lot of non history majors just taking many of our classes cause 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. 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 post.

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 and requirement as well. And for your department, um, 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. It's 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 older innovation, we have a history club that is very active and they do a lot of different activities.

Uh, we've done so many different, strange things over there. Like worked in the local, uh, grave site and cleaned it up to, um, movie nights to going out to museum visits. And so our history club is very active. I attached to our history club is the Phi alpha theta. Um, it's an honor society. It's a national organization.

It wins awards every year for its activity. They often tutor in the local communities, uh, students in history and social sciences. They, um, often do a lot of volunteer work as well. And the file fifth data society, um, wins sometimes the best chapter award, numerous times as one at numerous times, I think four times over the last few years.

And they sponsor our history in the making. Which is an undergraduate to history actually has a graduate history. It started off as an undergraduate history journal and is now a graduate history journal. And we win numerous awards, uh, from first place to third place almost every year. I think it's been going on almost maybe 14, 15 years and, uh, and it's purely students every.

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 units 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're creating exhibits. So we've had students create amazing. Digital as well as physical exhibits in numerous museums around the community. There, um, there's numerous opportunities that are Palm deserts.

There's a world forum that is sponsored as well. Um, and many students get involved. Our students visit, uh, Washington DC. So there's a lot of different opportunities, um, and activities going on and, uh, you know, on, uh, in our department, it sounds like, and, you know, we, we tell students all the time. You know, it's not just about the classes, you know, try to get engaged and involved, um, 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. Yeah. 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 in. I, I was always hungry. So I've enjoyed every club and eat as much of the free pizza and whatever food they offered. So I had to recommend join as many clubs as possible. Cause you get free food. It's really good. 100%. And as we wind down with this interview, if a student has a question, um, how can they reach out to your department?

Sure. So, uh, 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, uh, we do that. You can meet with any faculty member. All our faculty members are trained in, um, you know, advising we're here to talk particularly about career development.

What you're interested in doing, uh, any classes we give you suggested for courses that you may be interested in, even if you just want to come and chat. So. We divide that advising up amongst Olaf faculty. Just make any office hours, you can come to the chair's office hours as well. And then we also do often students go to the professional advisors just to learn about courses, but, uh, you know, we were kind of sometimes lonely and office hours.

We want the students to come and chat to us. Um, and so yeah, we highly encouraged just come by. You can find out office. On our website, every faculty member lists, they office hours there. And then we also have a, a website has all the exciting news because we have tons of guest speakers and a lot of different events going on.

Our faculty win awards and there's all sorts of stuff. So we try and keep our news up to date. Um, and then our advising pages 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. 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 them about anything else.

And it's kind of like, well, who better the chat with about that major than the faculty actually teaching it. And so you can chat with your professors. The class that you're in, but also about various opportunities, activities, maybe even changing to that major. Uh, so definitely chat with, with you, uh, with other faculty within your department and you're referencing the website.

So Yoties , if you have want more information, go to their websites, CSU SB dot.edu Forward slash history. So thank you, Dr. Jones for being on the podcast today. Oh, you're welcome it was lots of fun.