Programmatic Revisions at the University of Pittsburgh

Department of History

In May of 2003 the Department of History approved major reforms of its graduate program. In order to train area specialists who know how to research, teach, and interpret the histories and historiographies of particular places from comparative, cross-cultural, and global perspectives, the faculty have organized themselves into five thematic groups to offer graduate students core seminars on Atlantic History; Capitalism and Empire; Comparative Political Cultures; Race, Gender and Ethnicity; and Texts and Contexts. One of these thematic fields will be part of the Ph.D. comprehensive examination for each student.

The second major thrust of the programmatic changes has been identifying and responding to perceived problems in the department's policy toward graduate students. We have focused on improving the climate for graduate students, including:

  • helping TA/TFs become better teachers
  • clarifying the role of graduate students in department governance
  • identifying and enforcing the obligations of faculty/graduate student relations
  • improving the intellectual community
  • The many policy changes that were created to implement these goals appear in the revised departmental handbook.

    The Graduate Program in History
    This is our revised departmental handbook.

    New Graduate Student Orientation
    New Graduate Student Orientation

    Department of History

    Bill Chase, Chair

    Evelyn Rawski, Graduate Director

    Tania Boster, CID Graduate Student Representative

    Department of History Homepage

    New Graduate Student Orientation
    New Graduate Student Orientation

    The direction of our changes

    We have revisited the graduate program, evaluated its structural requirements and sought to adapt the intellectual, social and professional training of students in view of current circumstances. The direction of our changes:

  • To affirm the Ph.D. as the beginning phase in a process of lifelong learning.
  • To draw on the creative potential of students as well as faculty in a collaborative effort to research and teach history.
  • To foster habits of collaboration in order to create transnational and transcultural histories.
  • New Graduate Student Handbook
    The handbook has undergone a complete overhaul with the goal of providing a clear statement of expectations and an emphasis on the reciprocal obligations of faculty and graduate students in all aspects of the program. This includes teaching, coursework, and the fulfillment of requirements.

    Graduate Program Checklist
    This checklist was developed so that graduate students and their advisors can take a cooperative role in selecting courses and fulfilling requirements to ensure timely progress.

    More about our department

    The Department of History is unusual among departments in the United States in the relatively high number of faculty specializing in Europe, Latin America and Asia. Faculty and students draw on the rich resources provided by the Asian Studies Center, the Center for Latin American Studies, the Center for Russian and East European Studies, and the Center for West European Studies / European Union Center at the university. The department's comparative and transnational emphasis opens possibilities for students of United States history to explore subjects such as migration and diasporas; intellectual, social and political exchange in the Atlantic world, and the problematic relationship of economic development and rising inequality.

    PowerPoint presentation from CID Convening, January 2004

    Key Ideas
    PowerPoint presentation from CID Convening, January 2004

    Transnational and Thematic Seminars

    Fall 2004:

    HIST 2711 Texts and Contexts

    New core seminar taught by Jonathan Scott and Ann Janetta. This seminar links aspects of the history of ideas to the modes of their transmission, and relates a variety of texts to the cultural as well as historical circumstances of their generation.


    HIST 2712 Race, Ethnicity and Gender

    New core seminar taught by Lara Putnam and Bruce Venarde. This seminar explores the social construction of race, ethnicity and gender in international and historical perspective. Each of these three kinds of hierarchical differences join together a set of ideas about natural and cultural essences that serve to define and justify social boundaries.


    HIST 2721 Atlantic History to 1800

    Core readings seminar taught by Marcus Rediker. This graduate colloquium will introduce students to work in Atlantic history, both old and new, ranging from R.R. Palmer to newer scholarship that approaches the Atlantic world "from the bottom up."


    Coming in Spring 2005:


    New seminar taught by Alejandro de la Fuente

    Capitalism and Empire

    New core seminar taught by Dick Oestreicher and Evelyn Rawski

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