“I would not be the scholar, educator, or professional I am today without the support and challenge of the amazing faculty teaching in the history program. They have inspired my career as a disruptor of inequity and provided me with the skills necessary to be a critical educator. The coursework assisted in being able to be successful in all stages of my professional career, whether it was during my time with the Michigan Department of Education as a Higher Education Consultant, as a Director of Accreditation and Assistant Professor at Madonna University, or now as the Director of the Center for Educator Preparation and Chair of the Education Unit at the University of Michigan-Flint. In addition to my professional career, I have found the skills and knowledge learned in this program to be helpful throughout my academic career, especially as I work on completing my PhD in which I am researching the impact of whiteness on pre-service educators.”

Thomn Bell, Social Studies '04

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.

Professor Louis Moore interviewed on Good Morning America!

Watch Dr. Moore's interview about the NFL's forgotten first Black quarterback Willie Thrower! Watch here.

Loius Moore GMA

Congratulations to Professor Annie Whitlock!

Dr. Whitlock, joining our Tenure-Track faculty in the fall of 2022, has since released 2 books in under 3 months! One is an edited volume, the other a single-author monograph. We are so grateful for the talents and scholarship of Professor Annie Whitlock!

Hollywood or History book cover
Place Based Social Studies Flint MI book cover

Check out the latest edition of the History Newsletter!

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 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

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Click to learn more about the History Department scholarships.

Scholarship Recipients

Hannah Krebs Spotlight

Hannah Krebs

Hannah Krebs is the 2023 recipient of the Frances Anne Kelleher Memorial Scholarship.

Ben Joseph Spotlight

Ben Joseph

Ben Joseph is the 2023 recipient of the Quirinus Breen Prize

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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.

Mario Pritchard, Social Studies '06 Spotlight

Mario Pritchard, Social Studies '06

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

Ashleigh Palmiter, Social Studies '10 Spotlight

Ashleigh Palmiter, Social Studies '10

Social Studies Educator, Grand Rapids Public Museum

Alice Kalinowski, History '15 Spotlight

Alice Kalinowski, History '15

Public Services Manager & Research Support, Stanford Graduate School of Business Library

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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

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History Scholarships

Give Today

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

Benefits deserving junior or senior history majors.

Page last modified February 9, 2024