“Anyone looking to pursue a History degree from GVSU would not be disappointed in their world-class faculty and student-centered philosophy.”

Kevin D'Alessandro, History '07

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.

List and descriptions of four history department scholarships

Click to learn more about the History Department scholarships.

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

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History Department Author's Reception

February 15, 2023 11:30 AM - 1:30 PM

A reception to celebrate the books published by History Department Faculty during the past year! Come help us celebrate.

Scholarship Deadline

March 1, 2023 All Day

March 1, 2023 is the deadline to apply for most GVSU scholarships, including the 4 History Department ones! 

History Day

March 18, 2023 All Day

Michigan History Day Region 4

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Outstanding Alumni and Students

Ricky Benavidez '14 & '19

Ricky Benavidez graduated from Grand Valley in 2014 and 2019 with bachelor's degrees in history and public and nonprofit administration as well as a Master of Public Administration. After graduating, he held several positions at GVSU and served on the GVSU Young Alumni Council for 6 years. Ricky is a Senior Associate at Ktisis Capital, Adjunct Professor at GVSU, Strategist and Communications Director at West Michigan Progress, and DEI learning coordinator for the Grand Rapids Community Foundation. He sits on multiple community boards and committees, including the City of Grand Rapids Community Relations Commission, is the Board President of Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities, and is Co-Chair of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation’s LGBT Fund Advisory Board.

Joseph Westover teacher of the year

Joseph Westover, a previous Social Studies Education major here in the History Department at GVSU, is awarded Grand Rapids Public Schools' Teacher of the Year Award!!! Congrats Joseph, you inspire us!

Alum gloria masterton

Gloria Masterton is a Social Studies teacher at Legion Collegiate Academy in Rock Hill, SC. Gloria is a proud graduate of Grand Valley State University where she received her BA in Social Studies and Secondary Education. In addition, she also earned her Masters of Education specializing in Multicultural Contexts in Education from the University of South Carolina. Gloria has taught Government, Economics, United States History, and Sociology during her career. She is passionate about making Social Studies relevant to all her students’ prior knowledge and life experiences, and truly helping build the leaders of tomorrow. Currently, Gloria leads as the Social Studies Department Chair, advisor for Student Council and Yearbook, and faculty mentor and evaluator for her colleagues. Gloria was also named LCA 2022 Teacher of the Year for her continued dedication to her students and accomplishments in education. 

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

Raymond Callahan, Jr., Social Studies '14 Spotlight

Raymond Callahan, Jr., Social Studies '14

8th grade U.S. History teacher, Allendale Middle School

Ashleigh Palmiter, Social Studies '10 Spotlight

Ashleigh Palmiter, Social Studies '10

Social Studies Educator, Grand Rapids Public Museum

Alex Jablonski, History '11 Spotlight

Alex Jablonski, History '11

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Advisor, Binghamton University

View More Outstanding Alumni

Where Are Our Social Studies and History Graduates?

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Department News

Recent Faculty Doings and Achievements

Professor Alice Chapman received a Residency Research Fellowship

The Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies at the University of Michigan granted Professor Alice Chapman a Residency Research Fellowship for Fall 2022 and Winter 2023. The fellowship carries a $10,000 stipend, a fellows’ group to support research, university library privileges and office space. This is an exciting opportunity that provides access to exceptional resources for research and a community of scholars with whom to discuss ideas.

Professor Buckridge was invited to give a paper at the annual conference on Embodied Dependencies

His presentation was titled “Looking Good and Feeling Good: Fashioning Enslaved Bodies and the Materiality of Jamaican Lace-bark, 1700 to 1900” at The Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies, The University of Bonn, Germany, September 22, 2021.

Professor Covey publishes chapter in new book

Professor Covey published “From Playa Girón to Luanda: Mercenaries and Internationalist Fighters,” The Tricontinental Revolution: Third World Radicalism and the Cold War, edited by R. Joseph Parrott and Mark Atwood Lawrence, Cambridge University Press Studies in US Foreign Relations, 2022. 304-31.

Professor David Zwart receives the Pew Teaching Excellence Award

The Pew Teaching Excellence Awards offer GVSU faculty an opportunity to celebrate the work of their peers as teachers who inspire our students across the disciplines. 

Professor Grace Coolidge Publishes New Book

Dr. Grace Coolidge publishes new book titled Sex, Gender, and Illegitimacy in the Castilian Noble Family, 1400-1600.

Visiting Professor Joshua Morris publishes new book

Dr. Joshua Morris publishes The Many Worlds of American Communism. "By exploring the political, community, and labor dimensions of American communism, Morris helps convey the complex nature of social movements and the various ways they attempted to create agency in their society."

GVNext: History Department News

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U.S. ambassador to Russia gives history class insight on Russia, Ukraine

John Sullivan joined David Stark's class via Zoom.

May 24, 2022

GVSU experts Paul Isely, Scott Lingenfelter and Heather Tafel

Hauenstein Center hosting panel discussion on Ukraine-Russia conflict

The Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies will host a discussion April 13, featuring three GVSU lecturers analyzing the Russian invasion of Ukraine and its political and economic ramifications for the two nations, Europe and the world.

Apr 11, 2022

View More GVNext: History Department News

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Happy New Semester! In keeping with celebrating new beginnings, we want to recognize that December was the 29th anniversary of our Professor Carolyn Shapiro-Shapin being part of the History Department family! We are so grateful for her!
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History Scholarships

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Benefits students regularly enrolled in any history course.

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

Benefits deserving junior or senior history majors.

Supports students majoring in history and group social studies.

Check out the newest issue of History Highlights!

Page last modified December 1, 2022