Welcome and Introduction: Chair's Message
Welcome to the Department of History, Philosophy, and Social Sciences. I hope you will take the time to examine the individual programs that constitute the "heart and soul" of the department. Even with the tremendous variety in programs, there is a continuity and consistency among them arising from their liberal arts emphasis on reasoned and systematic inquiry grounded in the appreciation and knowledge of history, human institutions and behavior. A liberal education is worthy of a "free person," according to the ancient Romans, as it fosters the critical appreciation of the human condition.
While many deride the liberal arts as "impractical," a liberal education compels the reading of difficult texts and a confrontation with complex ideas often in written essays. The skills of reading, analysis, a flexibility of thought generated by an awareness of the past and present conditions, and writing are central to the department's disciplines, as well as success in the job market. HPASS students cannot be pigeonholed into a single vocational alternative, while employers are always looking for people who can:
- Read and write well
- Can analyze text and discern trends - derive the future from the past and present
- Are adaptable to new circumstances and challenges
- Can master new materials and are lifetime learners
- Understand people and are willing to work with and help others
- Want to make a difference
If you are interested in working in what can be called "people rich environments," where you help solve individual problems in a societal context, work with others having a rich appreciation of individual circumstances and differences, and possess a rational and knowledge-based understanding of those things that have formed our past, explain the present, and direct the future, you may want to look at the programs listed below.
At the heart of geographical analysis is the spatial perspective. Recognizing that this is the key to understanding all geographical phenomena, the program at PSU strives to help develop in students an understanding of a spatial perspective and acquire the knowledge and skills to undertake research and analysis in a variety of geographic contexts. The mission of the Geography program is to provide a quality multi-functional program that supplies service at the general education and baccalaureate level to the university community, fosters theoretical and applied research in geography and planning, promotes multi-cultural understanding, complements interdisciplinary work, and engages in community outreach.
History is far more than names and dates. Historians seek to know how everyone from kings to the common man lived, believed, and dreamed. As a result, there are historians of science, of ideas, of religion, of every region of the globe, and of every era. The program offers classes to students with interests in technology and business as well. The program maintains a broad selection of courses and rigorous undergraduate and graduate programs, and all members of the history faculty are active scholars with a commitment to teaching. Our internship program, available to seniors and graduate students, has benefited from successful partnerships with the National Archives Central Plains Kansas City Branch, the Powers Museum, Mine Creek State Historical Site, Ft. Scott National Historical Site, and Axe Library Special Collections, among others. The Department of History seeks not only to provide its students with an understanding of people and the effects of their actions and ideas, but with analytical and problem solving skills useful in any occupation that demands intellectual discipline and articulate expression, be it written or oral.
Aspiring teachers should know that PSU's first-rate history teacher education program enjoys a consistently high job placement rate and is directed by a practicing historian rather than a professional administrator. The degree's focus on a substantive knowledge of history gives History and Government students an advantage when taking the PRAXIS subject matter exam as part of the licensure experience. At the same time, cooperation and coordination between the program and the College of Education insures that prospective teachers are professionally trained and able to meet the rigors of the classroom.
The decision to seek an advanced degree in the History program reflects an interest in and an appreciation for the historical past. The History program's purpose is threefold: to prepare individuals well qualified to teach the subject of history; to provide students with research and investigative skills applicable to academic and professional situations; and to encourage the thoughtful and continuing study of history throughout the lifetime of the individual. The History program is committed to excellence in the education of teachers and to completeness in the preparation of students for the many History-related career opportunities beyond teaching now open. The History program further believes in the relevance of other disciplines to History and encourages work in those areas relating to the student's historical interests.
The Bachelor of Science in Justice Studies is an interdisciplinary liberal arts degree program with a foundation in social science inquiry. Students develop an understanding of the nature of justice and analyze controversial justice issues through critical inquiry and social science investigation. While primary focus is placed on theories of justice, legal studies, and social and economic justice, students may elect a Criminal Justice emphasis that will allow them to pursue interests in law enforcement, corrections, and other legal careers. The criminal justice emphasis gives students a substantive base of criminal justice courses such as interviewing and laws of evidence while building on the justice studies major that emphasizes critical thinking skills, analysis of statistical data, and student understanding of broader meanings and practices of justice.
The interdisciplinary multicultural minor allows the student to make sense of an increasingly diverse and globalized world. It has a flexible curriculum that allows students to pursue their interests while answering the Kansas Board of Regents' call for more multicultural academic programs.
Philosophy is defined "as the love of wisdom" which rationally studies axiology, epistemology, history of philosophy, logic, and metaphysics. Given the rigor of thought necessary to comprehend and appreciate complex texts and ideas, philosophy students are highly successful on the various professional school tests, such as the LSAT (law school) or the GMAT (business school.) Even though students may elect only at minor at PSU, the classes will provide reasoning skills and a knowledge base of human thought that will prepare them for both professional careers and a lifetime of critical thinking.
Political science broadly studies governments and governing processes - whether these "governments" are sovereign states, international entities and regimes, national governments, or sub-units of political systems so that students of politics can better comprehend how societal conflict is managed through political institutions and processes. The discipline looks at the structure of governments, the intricacies of the decision-making process, and the results of political choices. And, in the final analysis, the discipline is concerned with the how governments and processes should be instituted relative to individual and social values and choices.
Within the liberal arts, political science is the foundation for 1) understanding the nature of political phenomena, including individual, national/domestic, and international levels. It is a program that allows students 2) to gain the knowledge base, skills set, and understanding of the nature of values and choice to become a more effective citizen and participant in the American democracy, as well as 3) be successful in their career choices.
The Social Work Program's mission is to prepare baccalaureate level social workers who are capable of helping people enhance their human functioning, both individually and collectively, and resolve problems which prevent them from realizing their aspirations and achieving social and economic justice. Furthermore, the program seeks to prepare students whose practice reflects sensitivity to the impact of discrimination and oppression on "at-risk-populations," especially those in the Four- State area surrounding Southeast Kansas. The program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and its graduates are eligible to take the baccalaureate level social work licensure examination.
The Sociology program is focused on serving the public good by liberally educating students about human societies and institutions, how they are formed, and their effects. The American Sociological Association defines the discipline as:
- the study of society
- a social science involving the study of the social lives of people, groups, and societies
- the study of our behavior as social beings, covering everything from the analysis of short contacts between anonymous individuals on the street to the study of global social processes
- the scientific study of social aggregations, the entities through which humans move throughout their lives'
- an overarching unification of all studies of humankind, including history, psychology, and economics
Beyond a generalist orientation to the field, the program also offers two emphases, one in Criminology and a second in Diversity Studies. For students who do not elect an emphasis, the remaining six hours are taken as electives. Those pursuing the emphasis in Criminology choose from among the crime and deviance courses in completing their remaining electives. Those pursuing the emphasis in Diversity Studies choose from among the social inequality courses in completing their remaining sociology electives.