The Department of History invites students to reimagine the traditional ways we carve up geographical space by examining not just the histories of nations but also those of regions, trade, and cultural exchange. History teaches a way of thinking, a way of questioning, and a way of wondering about the world. After all, the past is never really fixed.
History undergraduates gain insight into diverse beliefs, social arrangements, and technologies that have shaped human experience and given it meaning. We ask students to do much more than memorize facts; we ask them to solve intellectual puzzles, to evaluate conflicting evidence, and to assess different scholarly interpretations of the past.
Our distinguished faculty has organized its strengths into 15 different fields of study and 7 cross-field research clusters. These are: Gender and Sexualities; Empires and Borderlands; Commerce, Commodities and Material Cultures; Religion, Cultures and Society; Science, Technology and Society; Pre-Modern Cultures and Communities; and Public History and Theory.
UC Santa Barbara defined Public History as a profession in 1976, with a Rockefeller Foundation grant to train historians for public and private sector careers beyond conventional academic employment.
The Center is an interdisciplinary research and education initiative that aims to expand public understanding and discussion of important issues facing working people through an undergraduate minor, a graduate-level colloquium, conferences, and workshops.
The Center for Cold War Studies and International History is a leading international center dedicated to the study of the Cold War era, promoting discussion and scholarship on topics related to the study of the Cold War, broadly conceived.
“The whole point of having the undergrad education and having it be in liberal arts is that it’s that ideal time in your life to explore every possible thing that seems interesting and then at some point you may find your passion.”
—BILL GRAYSON, ALUMNUS IN HISTORY AND POLITICAL SCIENCE AT UC SANTA BARBARA
Professor of 20th Century History Laura Kalman, in her vintage jean jacket and brown leather shoes, makes her history lectures as colorful as her rainbow shoelaces. Teaching history seems to be something that is as much fun for her as it is for her students.
“I love teaching 20th century United States history,” Kalman said. “I feel as though it is important that you all (students) have some sense of what it is.”
My partner stood up. “Her name is Leticia,” he said. “She is a twin. She is a history major who is going to be a teacher.”
To be fair, I did not inform my partner that I have wanted to be a lawyer since I was a child. But nor did I ever mention to him any desire to be a teacher.