History and Political Science

Steve Nolt, Professor of History, SST China (FA)
John Roth, Professor of History, MHL Director, MQR Editor
Jan Shetler, Department Chair, Professor of History


The History and Political Science department offers two majors and three minors. Two additional minors, Anabaptist-Mennonite Studies and Social Policy, are offered in collaboration with several other departments.

Special resources for the study of history at Goshen College include the Institute for the Study of Global Anabaptism (see, the Mennonite Historical Library, the Archives of Mennonite Church USA and The Mennonite Quarterly Review, a respected scholarly journal published by Goshen College.
Visit the History and Political Science department website at

Career and postgraduate opportunities

Recent graduates with history majors are successful high school social studies teachers and college history professors. Others are employed in libraries, archives, museums and other public history settings. Still others are in church vocations, law, business, non-profit administration, and international development.

Teacher education certification in Social Studies

Teacher certification in Social Studies Education is available for grades 5-12. Required are 54 credits in history and social science. Other requirements of a Goshen College major in history must be met as well. In addition, 30 credits of education courses are required, including a fall semester of student teaching. The first education class, Educ 201, should be taken in May term of the first year or spring of the sophomore year. See the education department pages and the Teacher Education Handbook for more details about requirements.

Major in history

41 credit hours (core and one concentration area)

Core requirements (32 credit hours)

  • Comm/Engl 204, Expository Writing 3
  • U.S. and world history courses, at least 12 credit hours upper level (300 and above) 21
  • Hist 409, Internship (or student teaching for education majors) 2
  • Hist 410, History Seminar: Analysis 3
  • Hist 411, History Seminar: Synthesis 3

Social science concentration (9 credit hours)

  • Courses selected from three of the fields below:
    Political science
    Peace, justice and conflict studies

Humanities concentration (9 credit hours)

  • Courses selected from three of the fields below:
    Bible or religion
    Art, Music or Theater history

Student learning outcomes

Graduates in history will:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of basic historical patterns, principles and theories.
  2. Skillfully communicate historical arguments in both written and oral form.
  3. Identify and interpret both primary and secondary sources effectively as evidence.
  4. Analyze, construct and support historical arguments from a variety of perspectives.
  5. Interpret the moral responsibilities of the historian's work for his/her own future.

Planning guide

First year Goshen Core
100 or 200-level history courses
Second year Goshen Core
Additional history courses
Courses in concentration
SST (fall or spring)
Third year Goshen Core
History Seminar: Analysis
Upper-level history
Balance of concentration
Fourth year Balance of Goshen Core
Balance of major
History Seminar: Synthesis

Planning and advising notes

All history majors are encouraged to acquire proficiency in a foreign language equal to the intermediate (202) level.

Major in history and social research

41 credit hours

Core requirements (32 credit hours)

  • Comm/Engl 204, Expository Writing 3
  • U.S. and world history courses, at least 10 credit hours upper level (300 and above) 21
  • Hist 409, Internship 2
  • Hist 410, History Seminar: Analysis 3
  • Hist 411, History Seminar: Synthesis 3

9 hours chosen from:

  • Soc 380, Statistics in Research 3
  • PoSc 210, Introduction to Public Policy 3
  • Soc 200, Principles of Sociology 3
  • Soc 230, Ethnography and Culture 3
  • Soc 391, Methods of Social Research3
  • Soc 392, Junior Seminar in Social Research 3

Planning and advising notes

Internship and senior seminar work should utilize various research skills. The student’s faculty adviser will encourage taking additional elective courses in economics, sociology and political science. This major is designed to provide the student with library, statistical and field-research skills useful in business, public administration, law and other practical pursuits. A variety of history courses provides a broad perspective rather than merely a technical orientation.

Minor in history

18 credit hours

  • Hist 101, 102, or 105 3
  • Additional history courses, at least 9 credit hours upper level (300 and above) 15

Minor in political studies

18 credit hours

  • Three core courses selected from the following list 9
    PoSc 200, Introduction to Political Science (3)
    PoSc 210, Introduction to Public Policy (3)
    PoSc 305, US Constitutional Law (3)
    PoSc 306, International Politics (3)
    PoSc 320, Issues in Politics and Society (3)
    PJCS 425, War and Peace in the Modern World (3)
  • Three courses selected from the following list 9
    Additional courses from the core list above, or any of the following:
    Hist 315, War and Peace in 20th Century Europe (3)
    Hist 326, Recent American History (3)
    Hist 335, History of Ethnic Conflict (3)
    PJCS 201, Violence and Nonviolence (3)
    PJCS 332, Religion, Conflict and Peace
    or PJCS 350, Dynamics/Theology of Reconciliation (3)
    PJCS 360, Designing for Social Change (3)
    Soc 322, Social Policy and Programs (3)
    Soc 334, Race, Class & Ethnic Relations (3)
    Sust 320, Environmental Policy & Politics (3 - part of Sustainability Leadership Semester)

Minor in pre-law studies

18 credit hours

  • At least three courses selected from the following list 9
    Biol 355, Natural Resources Policy Seminar(1)
    Bus 310, Business Law(3)
    Comm 270, Media, Law & Ethics(3)
    Engl 204, Expository Writing(3)
    Math 205, Discrete Mathematics(3)
    PJCS 347, Restorative Justice(3)
    Phil 200, Introduction to Philosophy(3)
    Phil 302, Ethics and Morality(3)
    PoSc 200, Introduction to Political Science(3)
    PoSc 210, Introduction to Public Policy(3)
    PoSc 305, US Constitutional Law(3)
  • Up to three courses selected from the following list 9
    Additional courses from the list above
    Econ 203, Principles of Microeconomics(3)
    Econ 204, Principles of Macroeconomics(3)
    Engl 300, Critical Theory & Practice(3)
    Engl 315, The English Language(3)
    Hist 326, Recent American History(3)
    Hist 327, American Immigration and Ethnic History(3)
    PJCS 325, Mediation: Process, Skills, Theory(3-4)
    PJCS 350, Dynamics/Theology of Reconciliation(3)
    Psyc 200, Social Psychology(3)
    Psyc 306, Abnormal Psychology(3)
    Soc 200, Principles of Sociology(3)
    Soc 322, Social Policy & Programs(3)
    SoWk 350, Human Services: Special studies(3)

Planning and advising note

At least nine credit hours in the minor must be 300-level or above.

Minor in Anabaptist-Mennonite studies

18 credit hours

  • Core courses selected from the following list: 12
    Bibl 321, Biblical Themes of Peace (3)
    Engl 207/307, Mennonite Literature (3)
    Hist 318, Anabaptist/Mennonite History (3)
    Hist 321, History of Mennonites in America (3)
    Related topics course or independent study: Hist 375 or Soc 351 (3)
  • Elective courses selected from core courses above or the following list: 6
    Hist 304, Renaissance and Reformation (3)
    Mus 311, Topics in Music Literature: church music (2)
    Rel 320, Christian Theologies (3)
    Soc 334, Race, Class and Ethnic Relations (3)
    Related course taken at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary
    Internship with a Mennonite organization or congregation

Planning and advising notes

It is assumed that students who apply the elective courses above to the minor will do a focused study (paper or project, e.g.) that makes an explicit connection with an Anabaptist-Mennonite topic.

Minor in social policy

The social policy minor at Goshen College is a collaborative cross-disciplinary program for students who want to work for social change within the public sector or nonprofit organizations. The minor is described in the Sociology, Social Work and Anthropology department pages.

History courses

HIST 101 Ancient Roots of Cultures 3
An exploration of the origins of humanity's basic social institutions as they developed from earliest times up to 1300, in different ways in different areas of the world. The course also introduces the analysis of primary sources in reaching conclusions to our questions about origins, interactions and difference. A Social World course in the Goshen Core.

HIST 102 European History 3
Selected topics in European civilization from the Middle Ages through the Renaissance, Reformation, Age of Absolutism to the 18th-century Enlightenment and French Revolution.

HIST 105 American History I 3
History of the American colonies and the United States through the Civil War and Reconstruction. Also introduces the study of history as an academic discipline.

HIST 204 What is the Good Life? 3
Why do humans long for utopia, yet consistently fail to produce it? To what extent do we assert our individual freedom in creating the communities we live in, and to what extent do we recognize our lives as resting on forces beyond our control? Is it still possible, in our postmodern context, to anticipate the future with hope? Drawn from five centuries of utopian thought, the readings, discussions and assignments in this course will focus on three general themes: human nature, human community, and human encounters with Transcendence. A Religious World course in the Goshen Core.

HIST 205 Immigration and American Identity 3
Immigration has been central to personal and national identity in the United States. It has also been a fiercely contested issue. Why has the movement of people across national borders generated both celebration and scorn? How has immigration produced patterns of inclusion, exclusion, assimilation, and discrimination? This course will include debates and case studies from both the past and the present. A Social World course in the Goshen core.

HIST 211 Revolution! 3
How does radical social, political and economic change occur and what are its consequences? Examines the major political "revolutions" in world history from the French Revolution to Cuba and beyond, as well as addressing the larger revolutionary changes since 1500, from the abolition of slavery to women's rights and independence from imperialism. A Social World course in the Goshen Core.

HIST 217 Geography and Culture 3
Survey of the world's geographic regions with emphasis on 1) the impact humans have had on the physical environment and 2) the origins of cultural variation in the world's regions. Includes regular discussion of current issues in world affairs and mapping skills. Required for students majoring in elementary education and secondary social studies. A Social World course in the Goshen Core.

HIST 304 Renaissance and Reformation 3
Topical survey of European civilization in the period from about 1300 to 1550. Intellectual, cultural and religious changes will receive most attention.

HIST 314 Modern China 3
Exploration of Chinese history with a view to understanding contemporary political, social, and economic developments. About one-third of the course looks at traditional Chinese society and culture, and the remainder examines developments since 1911 and especially since the establishment of the People's Republic in 1949.

HIST 315 War/Peace 20th Century Europe 3
Exploration of major European political, cultural, intellectual and economic developments since the 1890s. Major themes include: modernism, the onset of totalitarianism and totalitarian regimes in Europe and the Soviet Union, war as an agent of social change, the Cold War, the dissolution of Soviet-style communism in Eastern Europe and peace-making efforts throughout the century.

HIST 318 Anabaptist/Mennonite History 3
Introduction to Mennonite history and thought. About one-third of the course is devoted to Anabaptism. Special attention given to distinctive Anabaptist religious ideas, changes in Mennonite religious ideas and practice in Europe, migrations, contrasts in social-communal practices among Mennonites and related groups.

HIST 321 History of Mennonites in America 3
Emphasis on Mennonites as a people developing and interacting with the larger American society, using themes such as migration, community formation, beliefs, acculturation and pacifist citizenship in war and peace.

HIST 323 Colonial & Revolutionary America 3
Focus on cultural encounters and conflicts. Colonialism begs the question, how are cultures transported, replicated, and transformed? A look at contact between Europeans and Native Americans, between Europeans and Africans, between different European colonial projects, and finally between Anglo-American colonists and Britain. All involved sharp cultural conflict.

HIST 324 Slavery, Civil War & Reconstruction 3
Exploration of the central role of slavery in American society and politics, including its role in the Civil War and in Reconstruction. Other themes include the relationship of religion and war, postwar constructions of race and racism, and the memory of the Civil War.

HIST 326 Recent American History 3
A look at events that shaped the most recent generations of Americans. From grand expectations of the Civil Rights movement, faith in science, and the possibilities of affluence and social reform, society confronted the realities of Vietnam, Watergate and environmental destruction - producing cynicism, culture wars and continued efforts to balance liberty and equality.

HIST 327 U.S. Immigration and Ethnic History 3
An examination of the development of ethnic and racial identities in the United States, from the colonial period(s) to the present. Immigration patterns, forced migration, assimilation, ethnicization, nativism, family and gender dynamics, immigration and naturalization law and multicultural debates were important factors in these processes.

HIST 328 African-American History 3
Historical study of the experience of African-Americans as a group, especially their political and economic situations, their community life, some of their outstanding organizations and leaders, their forms of adjustment and resistance and their participation and contributions in U.S. life.

HIST 330 Gender in World History 3
A comparative studies in world history course. Looking at history from the perspective of gender and gender relations provides a new way of seeing historical change. This course takes case studies from the non-Western world and looks at the agency of women and men in determining their own future. Gendered history unsettles older historical paradigms and challenges our ethnocentric assumptions.

HIST 335 History of Ethnic Conflict 3
A comparative studies in world history course. The world seems plagued with increasing conflict between ethnic groups. Explores the historical roots of this problem through a comparative case-study approach and takes an interdisciplinary approach both to analysis of the problem and its solution. Students will present an in-depth research paper on the historical roots of one conflict.

HIST 340 Religious History of Africa 3
A comparative studies in world history course. Examination of the development and interaction of the three major religious traditions of Africa--African religion, Christianity and Islam--from earliest times to the present. The course will look at the particularly African forms of Christianity and Islam that were created by converts in various contexts and the social and political implications of religious practice. There will be some attention to the spread of African religious forms within the diaspora.

HIST 344 Latin American History 3
A study of the history of Latin America, with special emphasis on different regions and time periods according to the expertise of the professor.

HIST 345 Environmental History 3
A comparative studies in world history course. Exploration of human interaction with the environment over time particularly in the non-Western world. Examination of the material and ideological conditions which have led to preservation or destruction of the environment through a comparative case-study approach.

HIST 350 African History 3
African history from ancient times to the present with an emphasis on topical studies of land and food, slavery and social reciprocity, and colonial transformations in political authority. Encourages historical analysis for the purpose of responding positively to pessimistic predictions of Africa's future and appreciating Africa's strengths.

HIST 351 Representations in Public History 3
This is the second course in the Public History concentration. In studying a particular group of people, like Native Americans of the Southwest or Amish of Northern Indiana, the course investigates a critical issue in public history: how a community is represented and who gets to decide. We will visit museums, heritage sites, and local businesses, work with local people to hear their various perspectives on the issue, study their history and explore the ethical and legal issues involved in representation.

HIST 375 Topics 3
Study on a selected topic in American or world history. Examples: History of the Southwest; Model United Nations. Students may be invited to help shape the topic.

HIST 400 Advanced Study 1 (1-4)
Special topics for majors and minors.

HIST 409 Internship 2
Using research, writing and organizational skills in a setting outside the classroom; deliberate reflection on the process of historical or legal inquiry.

HIST 410 Seminar: Analysis 3
Philosophy and purposes of history; principles and methods of historical research; history and Christian faith; choice of a topic and bibliographical work and initial research on that topic. Course to be taken in the fall semester of the junior year. Required of all majors.

HIST 411 Seminar: Synthesis 3
Continued research on topic chosen and presentation in forms of oral report and written thesis paper. Course to be taken in the spring semester of the senior year. Required of all majors. Prerequisite: Hist 410.

Political science courses

POSC 200 Introduction to Political Science 3
General comparative survey of political institutions and behavior in various types of regimes, with special emphasis on the American political system. The most appropriate course for students required to take one course in political science. Collateral reading may be adjusted to individual needs and interests.

POSC 210 Introduction to Public Policy 3
Explores the nature of the policy-making process in the United States and, to a lesser extent, other pluralist polities. Topics will include constitutional and structural framework in which policies are shaped, interest articulation, policy formulation and the feedback process.

POSC 305 US Constitutional Law 3
A basic introduction to the federal system of government in the Unitied States based on the US Constitution. Focus on the constitutional arrangements established at the nation's founding, critical points in the constitution's evolution and the contemporary setting. Topics may include the legislative process, the judiciary branch and the nature of the presidency. The regulatory process, interest groups, political parties, the press, campaigning and voter behavior, civil rights and federal-state relations may also be examined.

POSC 308 International Politics 3
Examination of the structure, development and operation of the present international political system and its possible alternatives.

POSC 320 Issues in Politics and Society 3
Contemporary (and often controversial) political issues in the U.S. and Latin America, e.g. African-Americans and the U.S. judicial system; educating legal professionals; the church and Latin American politics. Analysis through class discussions, some lectures by the instructor, student papers and contribution from resource persons with involvement in the subject matter.

POSC 425 War and Peace in the Modern World 3
(Cross-listed from PJCS 425) Working primarily from an international relations perspective, this course wlll examine changing patterns of fighting wars and seeking peace.