Alabama history courses should fulfill core curriculum requirementBy Hunter Richey | 10/18/2016 8:46pm
The University of Alabama is a place for growth. Just as the campus expands every year, each student who graduates with an Alabama degree leaves campus with a sort of personal and professional growth that extends beyond the classroom. The University of Alabama sees many of this state’s brightest individuals through their college years, and it plays an active role in their development as future leaders wherever they may find themselves after graduation.
While students at The University of Alabama follow a variety of tracks on campus, including over eighty undergraduate degree offerings, each student is exposed to a core group of classes that adhere to the idea of a traditional liberal arts education. Regardless of college or major, all students are required to pass classes such as writing composition, mathematics and history, which make up the University’s core curriculum requirements. These class requirements ensure that all Alabama graduates, regardless of major or career aspirations, attain a base of knowledge applicable to nearly any field.
To fulfill the University’s history requirement, students must choose from a short list of Western Civilization or American history classes, which are generally broadly scoped overviews of world or continental history. These classes are important and are a great introduction to the field of history, but other course offerings could be much more directly applicable to current and future residents and leaders of the state of Alabama. One such series of courses is HY 225 and 226, which survey pre- and post-Civil War Alabama history and happens to be some of the best classes I have taken in my time at the Capstone.
Typically only covered as a unit during the fourth grade in Alabama classrooms, Alabama history is more than simply a sequence of events sitting on pages of dusty library books. The events that have taken place over the course of this state’s history have molded Alabama into its present form and continue to have strong implications to this day. Alabama history classes delve into the ratification of the 1901 Alabama Constitution and offer students the chance to learn about the themes and characteristics that have defined the state’s past. Events and conflicts have taken place throughout the history of this state that have had lasting impact on both the political structure and societal challenges of Alabama, and in order to properly address such issues, Alabamians must first be aware of the historical context that they possess.
The University’s mission statement includes the task of advancing the intellectual and social condition of the people of the state. To do so entails developing graduates with the civic knowledge of how the state of Alabama grew to become what it is today. History not only repeats itself; it builds on itself. While it may be unrealistic to assume every student enroll in the limited available sections of Alabama History, the University should encourage all interested students to enroll by allowing the classes to satisfy the history portion of the University’s core curriculum requirement. By doing so, The University of Alabama will take another step towards advancing in its role as this state’s flagship university and key developer of civically-minded Alabamians.
Hunter Richey is a senior majoring in economics and political science. His column runs biweekly.