Aims of the History Program

History is the study of everything that men and women have ever done. Through careful study, historians identify those things in human civilizations that change, that remain constant, and that have shaped the present. In short, they make us aware of the impact of the past on the present.

Through the study of history, we can appreciate and understand the feelings, beliefs, and insights of those who lived before us. We are freed from the narrow lens of the present and introduced to the broader panorama of mankind. In a particular way, the study of history fulfills Franciscan University’s commitment to fully liberate students from ignorance, prejudice, and false philosophies that impede a discovery of truth that makes one free indeed (see Franciscan University Mission Statement I, B1, Appendix A).

From the Catholic perspective, the Incarnation is the central fact of history. As the great Catholic historian Christopher Dawson wrote, the Catholic view of history is “an interpretation of time in terms of eternity and human events in the light of divine revelation.” Thus, Catholic students of history and historians believe that Jesus Christ gives meaning, significance, purpose, and direction to history; that He constantly works within history; and that He remains present in and through the Church, which He established. At the same time, they believe in man’s free will, in the potential for human progress, and in the moral obligation of every Christian to work vigorously and tirelessly for what Pope Paul VI called the “civilization of love.”

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