History is a set of evolving practices that allow us to interpret the past with clarity, rigor, and an appreciation for interpretative debate. It requires evidence, sophisticated use of information, and a deliberative stance to explain change and continuity over time. As a profoundly public pursuit, history is essential to active and empathetic citizenship and requires effective communication to make the past accessible to multiple audiences. As a discipline, history entails a set of professional ethics and standards that demand peer review, citation, and toleration for the provisional nature of knowledge.

Core Competencies (Numbers) and Learning Outcomes (Letters)

Engage in historical inquiry, research, and analysis.

  • Develop a disciplined, skeptical stance and outlook on the world that demands evidence and sophisticated use of information.
  • Understand the dynamics of change over time.
  • Explore the complexity of the human experience throughout time.
  • Evaluate a variety of historical sources for their credibility, position, and perspective.
  • Read and contextualize materials from the past with appropriate precision and detail. 

Practice historical empathy.

  • Value the study of the past for its contribution to lifelong learning and critical habits of mind that are essential for effective and engaged citizenship.
  • Develop a body of historical knowledge with range and depth.
  • Recognize the ongoing provisional nature of knowledge.
  • Interpret the past in context; contextualize the past on its own terms.
  • Explore multiple historical and theoretical viewpoints that provide perspective on the past. 

Understand the complex nature of the historical record.

  • Distinguish between primary and secondary materials and decide when to use each.
  • Choose among multiple tools, methods, and perspectives to investigate and interpret materials from the past.
  • Recognize the value of conflicting narratives and evidence.

Generate significant, open-ended questions about the past and devise research strategies to answer them.

  • Seek a variety of sources that provide evidence to support and argument about the past.
  • Develop a methodological practice of gathering, sifting, analyzing, ordering, synthesizing, and interpreting evidence.
  • Identify and summarize other scholars' historical arguments.

Craft historical narrative and argument.

  • Generate a historical argument that is reasoned and based on historical evidence selected, arranged, and analyzed.
  • Write effective narrative that describes and analyzes the past for its use in the present.
  • Understand that the ethics and practice of history mean recognizing and building on other scholars' work, peer review, and citation.
  • Defend a position publicly and revise this position when new evidence requires it. 

Practice historical thinking as central to engaged citizenship.

  • Engage a diversity of viewpoints in a civil and constructive fashion.
  • Work cooperatively with others to develop positions that reflect deliberation and differing perspectives.
  • Apply historical knowledge and analysis to contribute to contemporary social dialogue.


* Adapted from the AHA Tuning Project: History Discipline Core. See