Why Study History

Messer-Kruse - Intro to Critical Thinking

  • What are Messer-Kruse's main points in this short excerpt?
  • Why do you think this is useful for historians and students of history?  
  • What did you find most interesting, useful and/or surprising?

 

Julia Galef – Why you think you’re right – even if you’re wrong

  • What is Galef’s main argument? 
  • In the context of her talk, what is the difference between a ‘soldier’ and a ‘scout’?
  • How does the Dreyfus Affair demonstrate confirmation bias?
  • What is motivated reasoning?
  • What traits do people with the ‘scout’ mindset have?
  • Why do you think this is useful for historians and students of history?  
  • What did you find most interesting, useful and/or surprising?

 

Chimananda Ngozi Adichie - "The Danger of a Single Story" 

  • In what ways do "single stories" impact our own identities, how we view others, and the choices we make?
  • How has the "single story" stereotypes led to prejudice, misunderstandings, and discrimination?
  • What dilemmas can arise when other view us differently than we view ourselves?
  • What is the the danger between the relationship between the "single story" and stereotypes?
  • Why do you think this is useful for historians and students of history?  
  • What did you find most interesting, useful and/or surprising?

 

Why Study History

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What is History and Why Study it? and The Historian's Craft

  • Based on the course material and your own understanding and experience, explain what History is and why we should study it.  
  • What do you think historians do and why?  How do historians know what they claim to know?  What challenges do we face when trying to reconstruct and understand the past?  Why should one want to think the way historians do?  
  • How does knowledge of the past shape our understanding of the world?  How does our understanding of the world inform our knowledge of the past?  
  • Why is it important for Americans to learn and confront our hard history?  

Please note: Incorporate at least three sources from the "What is history and why study it" section and at least one from the Historian's Craft section when answering the questions for this part of the assignment.  

 

Settler Colonialism

    • Read the "Short Introduction to Settler Colonialism." In your own words, what is settler colonialism? (How is settler colonialism different from other forms of colonialism?)
    • Read Veracini's "Settler Colonialism and the Concept of Transfer."  In your own words, what does Veracini mean by the concept of transfer and how/why is this concept central to settler colonialism?
    • Veracini discusses 26 types of transfer in this excerpt. I would like you to choose two from his list.  For both:
      • Identify the type of transfer (e.g. B. Ethnic Transfer)
      • Explain the type of transfer in your own words
      • Try to provide an example from American history that illustrates the type of transfer.  (I recommend you try to find examples in Race: The Power of an Illusion - The Story We Tell or Churchill's "Nits Make Lice"). 
      • How do you think the type of transfer helps us to understand American history and/or the US today?
    • Read Ostler and Jacoby's "Settler Colonialism and the Meaning of America" OR Glenn's "Settler Colonialism as Structure to Understand Race and Gender in the US."  What are the three most important takeaways from this reading?  Hint: If you had to summarize the three key points for someone who did not read this, what would your three points be and why?

 

Nevada Constitution

Based on the Nevada Constitution summary and your own opinions, briefly answer the questions below (most of the questions are simply asking for your thoughts; the summary will help you with parts of Questions 3 and 4): 

  1. The state legislature meets for 120 days every other year.  What do you think are some pros of the legislature meeting for a few months every other year?  What do you think are some cons of the legislature meeting for a few months every other year?
  2. The Nevada constitution includes term limits for state legislators.  What do you think are the merits/demerits of term limits? Given that we have regular elections, do you think term limits are necessary? Why or why not?
  3. According to the Nevada Constitution summary, what are Nevada's sources of revenue? (What is the main source of revenue?) Which taxes (if any) are progressive and which are regressive? Which taxes does the state constitution prohibit? Why? How would you characterize this tax system? Who bears the burden of paying taxes in Nevada? Why?  Is this fair? Why/why not?  How would you change the Nevada state constitution regarding sources of funding? 
  4. According to the summary, how does Nevada fund education?  What do you think are the pro/cons of this method of funding?  What do you think have been the consequences of this funding structure?
  5. Based on your observations, what are some strengths/weaknesses of the Nevada state constitution? What is one amendment or change you would implement? Why? 

 


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