“Two days after I graduated in December 2016 with my history degree from Grand Valley, I shipped out to Air Force Basic Military Training. Now, I work as a photojournalist at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. My history background has helped me to succeed in journalism by strengthening both my writing and research-gathering skills.”

Tara Stetler, History '16

The craft of history interprets the past. History examines the lives of people, the consequences of ideas, and the products of human ingenuity. Historians engage in deep inquiry and persuasive debate. They craft narratives about the past based in evidence. The skills students gain through the study of history allow them to analyze and interpret evidence and evaluate how human societies change over time.

Choose from a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in history, or a minor in history or history of science, or select history as a teachable minor. Careful training in research, writing, critical reading, and interpretation makes history graduates attractive to a wide number of employers who value those abilities, especially in fields of law, library and museum work, finance, journalism, and public administration. Students also study history to advance their own liberal education and to train their minds.

Or, choose the major in Group Social Studies that is designed for students seeking teacher certification to teach in high schools or middle schools. Students study a variety of academic fields including History, Geography, Political Science, and Economics. Students acquire a strong background to engage their classrooms with vibrant content. Students have historically had great success in landing jobs in classrooms in Michigan, but also across the United States, particularly in Texas and Utah. A significant number of alumni have gone into educational administration, graduate school, and a wide variety of other professions. Social studies students can choose from a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S). We also support the Pedagogical Content Knowledge for Elementary Teaching major designed for students seeking teacher certification in elementary education.

The Department of History is a unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

We Are Hiring!

Two Open Positions for Visiting Faculty

The GVSU History Department is seeking two Visiting faculty members to begin in the fall of 2024, for the teaching concentrations of:

 K-12 History/Social Studies Education, courses will include U.S. History courses and Social Studies education courses for elementary and secondary pre-service teachers.

History of the Americas, courses will include surveys in US and World History and upper division courses in Latin American History. Candidates who can teach both US History and World History surveys and have research and teaching expertise in Latin American History are especially encouraged to apply.

Ready More and Apply HERE!


Congratulations to 2024 Department Awards, Scholarship Recipients and Phi Alpha Theta Inductees!

The History Department celebrated the acheivements of our outstanding students and welcomed new members to our chapter of the History National Honor's Society, Phi Alpha Theta.


Phi Alpha Theta inductees: Abigail Brown, Joshua M DeWolfe, Jill Ely, Katelyn Fletcher, Jason Hiegel, Hannah Mae Kaye, Mikaela Joanne Martin, Carolyn E. Mast, Hannah N. McBride, Anna Theune, and Nathan Wietrzkowski.


Award winners:

Jo Ellyn Clarey Women's History Scholarship: Hannah McBride

Quirinus Prize Breen Scholarship: Elizabeth Kieliszewski

Glenn A. and Betty J. Niemeyer History Scholarship: Sabrina White & Ashlynn Scafidi

Frances Anne Kelleher Memorial Scholarship: Mya Dever

Richard L. Cooley-Chester Huff Distinguished Social Studies Award: Jill Ely

2024 Outstanding Major in History: Hannah Krebs

2024 Outstanding Major in Social Studies: Jill Ely

2024 History Major High Merit: Joshua Kuiper & Daisy Soos

Social Studies High Merit Award: Nathan Wietrzykowski

PAT ceremony 2024 program
PAT inductees
Huner and Soos talking
Coolidge and students
Huner and student talking

2023-24 Annual Newsletter Out Now!

Alumni and Graduates!

If you haven't already, please email [email protected] to provide a non-GVSU email address where we can keep in touch, primarily with this annual newsletter.

The History Department's annual newsletter is now in a digital format that allows more to be shared! Scroll through to take a look at the features, and click on any of them to read more. 


These are just sneak peeks...click to read more!

Click either picture or the link HERE!

The Public History badge allows students to enhance their degree program through place-based and community engaged projects drawing on current practices and methodologies.

The Certificate in Medical and Health Humanities allows students to broaden their understanding of medicine and health by incorporating the diverse perspectives of a variety of disciplines in the liberal arts and sciences. 

The Civic Change Agent Badge aims to inspire students to align democratic ideals and civic commitment with deep knowledge of context, history, and policy. It teaches students the values and practices required to sustain democracy through formal curricula, project learning, and co-curricular activities.

Click to learn about the programs happening every year in the History Department!

Upcoming Events and Opportunities

NEW Internship Opportunity!

Click HERE to read the description of a new, PAID internship with the Greater Grand Rapids Women's History Council!


There are no upcoming Events at this time

View More Events

Click to learn more about the History Department scholarships.

Scholarship Recipients

Coltrane Bodbyl-Mast and Nathan Wietrzykowski Spotlight

Coltrane Bodbyl-Mast and Nathan Wietrzykowski

Coltrane Bodbyl-Mast and Nathan Wietrzykowski are the 2023 recipients for the Glenn A. and Betty J. Niemeyer History Scholarship.

Ben Joseph Spotlight

Ben Joseph

Ben Joseph is the 2023 recipient of the Quirinus Breen Prize

View More Scholarship Recipients

Outstanding Alumni and Students

Social Studies Alumni Panel

On March 25, 4 of our Social Studies Education alumni came to speak at a panel to students, giving advice and insight on their journey through the GV program and into their careers! They come from the roles of both teaching and administration (Kenyatta is a Principal!!). Students gathered at the beautiful Allendale campus Alumni House and enjoyed tasty food and great conversation. We hope to make this an annual event!

Alumni Panel

From left to right: Tim McKeeby, Kenyatta Hill-Hall, Marlena Gray, Carleigh Haskins

Students at the alumni panel

94% of GVSU alumni respondents rated their academic experience in the History and Social Studies majors as excellent or good.

Mario Pritchard, Social Studies '06 Spotlight

Mario Pritchard, Social Studies '06

6th and 7th grade world history teacher, River Rouge, MI

Kyle Summerfield, Social Studies '14 Spotlight

Kyle Summerfield, Social Studies '14

Business owner and high school sports coach

Erin Cole, History '21 Spotlight

Erin Cole, History '21

Graduate Student, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

View More Outstanding Alumni

a donut chart showing alumni career stats

Department News

Recent Faculty Doings and Achievements

Professor Annie Whitlock publishes new book

Dr. Whitlock published "Place-Based Social Studies Education: Learning From Flint, Michigan" in January of 2024. Learn more or order here.

Professor David Zwart Published a chapter in a book

David Zwart: Published a chapter in a book: “The 1918-1919 Flu Pandemic: Remembering Trauma amongDutch Americans,” in Dutch Immigrant Stories, Donald J. Bruggink, Dennis N. Voskuil, and William Katerberg, eds. Holland, Mich. Van Ralte Press, 2022.

Professor Eric Covey publishes new article

Eric Covey: Publishes new article: “The anti-apartheid movement at Grand Valley State College in West Michigan,” Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies, February 22, 2023, pp. 1-15.

Professor James Smither Publishes New Book

Professor James Smither is the editor of Death and Life in the Big Red One.

Professor Louis Moore is featured in TIME, MSNBC

Professor Louis Moore is featured in a TIME article "The Historic Significance of a Super Bowl With Two Black Starting Quarterbacks" and MSNBC Article "Why we shouldn't let the NFL take credit for Jalen Hurts and Patrick Mahomes"

Professor Patrick Shan publishes a book chapter

Patrick Shan: published a book chapter titled “From Admirer to Critic: Li Dazhao’s Changing Attitudes towards the United States,” in Sino-American Relations: The New Cold War, The University of Amsterdam Press, 2022, 31-54.

GVNext: History Department News

Several flags on flagpoles fly outside of a building. A cement sign says "Richard M. DeVos Center."

Annual Great Lakes History Conference to explore 'Division and Reaction'

The conference, which is free and open to the public, will be held October 5-7.

Sep 28, 2023

At right, Travus Burton, director for Civic Learning and Community Engagement, looks at a poster presentation from the 2019 Civic Engagement Showcase.

Civic Engagement Showcase returns to highlight campus-community partnerships

After a three-year absence, the Civic Engagement Showcase returns on April 6, offering campus and community members space to share their partnerships on issues that impact everyone.

Mar 30, 2023

View More GVNext: History Department News

History Scholarships

Give Today

This scholarship will assist students who are pursuing a degree from Grand Valley State University and have a passion and interest in Latin American history.

This fund is for History or Social Studies students studying abroad.

Benefits deserving junior or senior history majors.

Page last modified May 20, 2024