History and Political Science Degree Programs at Ashland University Offer Unique Twists

Dr. John Moser, professor of history, teaches a history class at Ashland University.

2/11/13 ASHLAND, Ohio – What do the Constitution of the United States, Thucydides’ “History of the Peloponnesian War,” the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, and Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations” have in common? They are all likely reading for students majoring in the history and political science degree programs at Ashland University.

Ashland University’s history and political science programs require students to read, discuss and write about original documents and texts, including the foundational documents of American government and speeches by the world’s greatest statesmen.

“While some courses use textbooks for background material most focus on reading and discussing primary sources,” said Dr. David Foster, chair of the Department of History and Political Science. “You will delve into the primary sources that actually shaped history and politics – philosophical works, laws, Supreme Court opinions, poems, speeches, religious texts, and treaties.

“Then, in a conversational, seminar-style setting, you will discuss their key ideas, arguments, evidence and significance,” Foster said. “It’s a powerful way to learn.”

Foster said these writings challenge students habitual opinions about the great questions of justice and empire, freedom and tyranny, war and peace, causality and continuity. “To open yourself to that challenge is to embark on the adventure of becoming a genuinely free human being.”

Foster said in today’s “information age,” it is important to be able to analyze ideas, think clearly, and convey thoughts accurately and forcefully, both orally and in writing. “That’s what this approach to studying history and political science teaches you to do,” he said.

Foster said that incoming students (and their parents) sometimes assume that a degree in history or political science can only lead to employment as a politician, a teacher, or a museum curator.

“The fact is an education in political science or history can prepare you for employment in most any field. That is because, at its heart, this sort of education provides students with such fundamental skills as clear writing and speaking, text analysis, reasoning, and citizenship that are useful in any profession,” he said. “Many of our graduates become lawyers, political operatives, college professors, and high school teachers, but many others have pursued careers that might seem less expected, in business, sales, public relations, the military, journalism, church work, and college administration.”

Another distinctive thing about Ashland’s history and political science programs is its close cooperation with the Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs, a leading national educator in the enduring principles and practice of free government.

Students majoring or minoring in Political Science or History are eligible to apply to the Ashbrook Scholar Program (for more information, go to www.ashbrookscholar.org).  In addition to their regular coursework, Ashbrook Scholars participate in a series of special events, colloquia with prominent scholars, and private seminars with some of the leading political actors of our time such as Mitt Romney, John Boehner, Mike Huckabee, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Clarence Thomas. All Ashbrook Scholars write and publicly defend a thesis during their senior year.  They also receive an annual renewable scholarship.

Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2013, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.