At Bennington, students work closely with faculty to design the content, structure, and sequence of their study and practice—their Plan—taking advantage of resources inside and outside the classroom to pursue their work.
History is a challenging and rewarding conversation with the past. Our history faculty, whose expertise spans American and international history as well as early modern European intellectual history, mediate these dialogues in classrooms that are alive with “the pastness of the past"—a rich understanding of the ways in which historical actors lived in and engaged with worlds that were completely different from our own. We introduce students to the primary texts that will become their conversation partners, and facilitate their ability to find patterns and points of congruence that enable them to continue this conversation on their own.
Our curriculum presents an array of ways for students to internalize historical thinking, and incorporate it into their work in other fields. In addition to courses on American and international history, we offer courses on international law, the Constitution, diplomacy, human rights, and local history; we teach the histories of science, magic, medicine, books, and gender. Advanced projects classes and tutorials offer opportunities to pursue individual and collaborative interdisciplinary independent projects.
In studying history, students learn to work with primary sources and put those sources in context. They work with secondary sources, and use classroom discussion as a collaborative process for working out readings, ideas, and meanings. They learn to formulate their own arguments and develop the writing skills that will allow them to express their arguments in a clear and cogent fashion. In short, they learn to engage and contribute to a larger intellectual community.
Carol Pal is a historian who works on the intellectual history of early modern Europe. A former auto mechanic and pastry chef, she now focuses on the histories of science, medicine, the Republic of Letters, and knowledge production—with an emphasis on how women were always part of the picture.
Eileen Scully is an award-winning scholar of American diplomacy and international history. Her recent work explores historical understandings of human trafficking and international customary law on the coming, going, and staying of destitute, physically disabled migrants.