Students gathered in front of the Language Arts and Social Science building

Welcome to West Valley’s History Program

The most common myth about studying history is that it is little more than the memorization of facts and dates. Wrong!

History is more than facts and dates! History is an interpretation that uses facts and dates to make an argument. Moreover, history is an interpretation without end - always subject to reinterpretation based on new evidence and new ways of looking at the past. The historian is both an investigator and storyteller who challenges listeners to think critically about the past and present.

Studying the past can broaden your understanding of human nature and human civilization, giving you insight into the capabilities of humans to build social, political, and cultural institutions. What led to the rise of some civilizations and the decline (or destruction) of others? Is class exploitation the source of human conflict? Was unbridled nationalism the cause of World War I, or was imperialism the culprit? What was the attraction to fascism by millions of Germans and Italians in the 1930s? In what ways have oppressed ethnic and racial groups responded to discrimination?

But there's more to history than just learning about the past. History can also help you understand the present. Why is the United States a superpower on the world scene? Why are Jews and Palestinians killing each other in the Middle East? Why did terrorists attack the World Trade Center? These questions cannot be answered without an understanding of the root historical causes behind them.

History also teaches you important research, writing, and critical thinking skills. History faculty at West Valley College use a variety of approaches in their teaching to enhance the learning experience of students who learn to weigh evidence and construct logical arguments. The history major is not confined to teaching history in the classroom after graduation, but will find such skills useful in journalism, law, government service, business, and science.

Finally, history is essentially an interdisciplinary academic field. You learn more than just about past events when you take a history course at West Valley College; you also learn about economics, politics, sociology, race and ethnicity, gender, psychology, literature, and even music.

The History Program seeks to offer a broad range of transferable courses that fulfill not just West Valley College breadth requirements, but also stimulate the intellectual curiosity of the campus student population. Regularly offered courses include western civilization, U.S. history, and California history, as well as a variety of ethnic history courses in the fields of African American, Mexican American, and Native American.

Last Updated 3/8/19