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"American Universities Declare War on Military History" Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP11 Mar 2021 8:02 p.m. PST

"The world applauds the scientists who have created vaccines to deliver humanity from Covid-19. One certainty about our future: There will be no funding shortfall for medical research into pandemics.

Now, notice a contradiction. War is also a curse, responsible for untold deaths. Humans should do everything possible to mitigate it. And even if scientists cannot promise a vaccine, the obvious place to start working against future conflicts is by researching the causes and courses of past ones.

Yet in centers of learning across North America, the study of the past in general, and of wars in particular, is in spectacular eclipse. History now accounts for a smaller share of undergraduate degrees than at any time since 1950. Whereas in 1970, 6% of American male and 5% of female students were history majors, the respective percentages are now less than 2% and less than 1%, respectively…"
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Unfortunately … not only the US Universities … even worse … the damn virus of historical "revisionism" through books, films and "compulsory subjects" in my country also …


Stryderg12 Mar 2021 5:52 a.m. PST

Most people want to feel "right" or vindicated in some form or fashion. By looking at history through my modern lens, I can write a dissertation on how "wrong" those people were a few hundred years ago. Who's going to contradict me, certainly not anyone who was there. So any contradictions will come from my peers, and if most of them have the same lens I do, then they won't contradict much. BAM! I'm right, and feeling good about myself.

Unfortunately, that breeds a complete misunderstanding in the simple fact that people don't all believe the same thing.

Personal logo StoneMtnMinis Supporting Member of TMP12 Mar 2021 7:55 a.m. PST

To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child. For what is the worth of human life, unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history? – Marcus Tullius Cicero

15th Hussar12 Mar 2021 9:22 a.m. PST

I just looked, seems like the world is still round and we're safe for another few years…


pzivh43 Supporting Member of TMP12 Mar 2021 9:41 a.m. PST

Yeah, but that ranking is based solely on peer reviews, no objective criteria at all. So Stryderg comment on peers is spot on.

And just checked the list of History Dept courses at Princeton (one of the colleges tied for #1). Only course I could find that mentioned war was one on The Vietnam Wars.

Pretty poor, IMO.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP12 Mar 2021 11:53 a.m. PST



Personal logo Condotta Supporting Member of TMP12 Mar 2021 6:54 p.m. PST

I believe it was Mark Twain who stated ‘There are lies, damn lies, and statistics."

In 1970 there were about 6 million college students in the States compared to 19.6 million in 2018. So, even IF the statement/statistics about numbers of history majors is correct, a smaller percentage of a much larger number is still a lot of history majors. Also, not all history is studied as such. For example, other disciplines study history in regard to military history. Economics and Psychology for example.

However, if a desire to avert future wars is the goal, what history major could effectively divert the military industrial complex, nationalism or even tribalism? But why quibble? How about a nice game of chess, or preferably a wargame where the only blood spilt is from a sharp spear, pike or bayonet pricking a finger? 😃

ChrisBrantley13 Mar 2021 6:02 a.m. PST

It's not just history, a number of traditional disciplines are in decline, and schools are closing smaller departments to deal with budget challenges and declining state funding. The reality is that you only need so many history majors to fill the faculty ranks and the number of jobs available to history majors versus those requiring more specific qualifications is limited. So there are fewer students seeking the degree and the decline in demand drives the supply of classes and degrees. It used to be that history majors made up a fair percentage of the students entering law schools for careers in law, but in my experience, even there they are being displaced by the increasing number of students entering with STEM related undergrad degrees. So rather than some misguided assault on the teaching of history, I tend to see this as a broader consequence of economic trends and the changing workforce supply and demand. Most academic leaders that I know would love to add more seats in their history departments and hire more history professors to teach more classes if there was sufficient interest, history is a lot cheaper to teach than engineering or advance science or IT and requires less facilities and other overhead. But history professors don't bring in large research grants and corporations won't build them fancy history buildings to do their research in.

15th Hussar13 Mar 2021 12:27 p.m. PST

Good Post, Chris B.

We're struggling with this in FLA on both the Primary (School vouchers) and Collegiate levels (Bright Futures); and it sucks to high heaven.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP13 Mar 2021 9:54 p.m. PST



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