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Strategic Plan

History Department

Grand Valley State University

Strategic Plan - January 2007

Unit Mission Statement

The Department of History advances public knowledge and understanding of the past as it informs the present and future. We offer a multidisciplinary approach that combines our global cultural heritage with long-neglected voices, uses a range of tools and perspectives, and provides the knowledge and skills necessary for informed decision making.


We provide a student-centered program that is committed to excellent teaching, scholarship, and service. Through our commitment to the liberal arts tradition, we help students develop skills of inquiry, reflection, critical analysis, dialogue, and expression. We are dedicated to inspiring all our students - be they our History and Group Social Studies majors or students we encounter in our general education courses - to pursue excellence in their chosen professions and serve the broader local, regional, national, and international communities in which they live.

As a community of scholars, we help to enlarge the state of knowledge in our field through our active engagement in intellectual and creative pursuits. We recognize that active scholarship enriches our teaching and enables to serve students, the university, and the broader community. We bring the historian's perspective to courses in the University Honors College and other interdisciplinary programs; we participate actively in preparing teachers of History and Social Studies as well as preparing our majors for further study and careers in a variety of fields. We promote faculty and student participation in national and international inquiry and discourse. We are dedicated to serving the broader West Michigan community through our engagement in local and regional history forums.


We value:

  1. Critical historical inquiry that recognizes complexity, multiple explanations of change, and the active role of humans in shaping their histories and their understanding of the past.
  1. Diverse, innovative, and effective pedagogical strategies that enable students to gain historical knowledge and analytical skills.
  1. A diverse and respectful learning community comprised of faculty, students and staff.
  1. Modeling outstanding teaching as we prepare future educators.
  1. Teaching history through conversations that are best conducted in small classes with an open-minded, respectful, and questioning spirit.
  1. The liberal arts tradition, which encourages open-ended and open-minded inquiry, respectful dialogue, and interdisciplinary research.
  1. General Education and embrace an active and vigorous role in the university's General Education program.
  1. Interdisciplinary and collaborative scholarship and teaching.
  1. Faculty scholarship, which informs excellent teaching and involve students when possible.
  1. Student historical research-in class, in self-directed research projects, and in collaboration with faculty.
  1. Faculty and student participation in international and cross-cultural study.
  1. Collaboration with the broader community, both academic and non-academic.

Goals and Objectives

Goal 1: Achieve exemplary teaching that is recognized throughout the nation.


  • meet the needs of undergraduate majors and minors
  • meet the needs of graduate students
  • meet the needs of students preparing to be teachers
  • meet the needs of General Education students

Goal 2: Establish a Master of Arts program in history suited to the needs of the West Michigan community.


  • suit needs of secondary education teachers
  • suit needs of interested community members
  • suit needs of undergraduates needing additional academic work to get into top doctoral programs

Goal 3: Develop a model undergraduate and graduate curriculum that emphasizes historical knowledge, research skills, and an understanding of historians' ways of knowing.


  • revise the undergraduate curriculum to reflect current approaches to the discipline
  • reconsider the balance between required survey courses and upper division electives for majors and between upper-level survey and topical courses;
  • address department's involvement with General Education themes program
  • offer more opportunities for small, upper-level seminar courses
  • seek FTLC grant to reconsider 200-level (and 100-level) offerings

Goal 4: Encourage and support nationally and internationally recognized faculty scholarship.


  • revise upper-level curriculum to develop course offerings reflecting faculty research expertise
  • establish several competitive 1-course releases for tenure-track faculty each semester
  • encourage and assist faculty seeking outside funding
  • obtain more money for faculty participation in conferences
  • bring more visiting speakers to campus
  • obtain more funding for research-related activities

Goal 5: Increase faculty diversity in the department to serve the needs of a diverse student body.


  • increase faculty diversity
  • increase student diversity
  • increase curricular diversity
  • increase our students' participation in international study programs
  • increase international study

Goal 6: Solidify existing partnerships and develop new liaisons with the local, regional, and scholarly communities.


  • play a leading role in developing a regional history center
  • to establish the Great Lakes History Conference as a leading regional history conference in the Midwest (and increase the percentage of regular faculty participation)
  • strengthen our successful National History Day program by forging additional connections with teachers in the K-12 systems

Goal 7: Foster and support a vibrant intellectual culture in the department.


  • to increase undergraduate participation in Student Scholarship Day
  • to sponsor Phi Alpha Theta undergraduate sessions at Great Lakes History Conference
  • to increase participation in McNair Scholars program, Student Summer Scholars (S3) program, and in Student Scholarship Day
  • to continue faculty colloquia and encourage more faculty-student scholarly collaboration