Revisit the modules throughout the course to consider your previous thoughts on the study of history and reflect on how your thinking on history has evolved. Then respond to the following question.
Now that you are coming to the end of this course, has your perception of history evolved since module one? Why or why not?
2. Niccolò Machiavelli once stated, “Wise men say, and not without reason, that whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past; for human events ever resemble those of preceding times.” With this quote in mind and reflecting on your research this term consider this question:
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Choose a contemporary issue and describe how your perception of that issue could have changed based on your research of your topic?
3. In response to peers, explain whether or not you share your peer’s perception of the selected contemporary issue. Why or why not?
To complete this assignment, review the Discussion Rubric document.
- Explain the significance of a selected topic: South African Apartheid
- Define where history ends and current events begin
- Analyze the importance of history
Even before you began university studies, you took classes where you outlined textbook material in preparation for a test. Consider how you chose what material was important to study. You identified topics that you thought might appear on the test. Perhaps you outlined material that your instructor emphasized, or you identified ideas that had a long-reaching impact or repeated appearance in the subject you were studying. In other words, you identified concepts that carried significance.
It is important, too, for you to be able to identify and explain why the historical topic that you chose to study in this class is significant. Historians must be able to explain why it is worthwhile for audiences to study their research. There are several different reasons why a historical event might be significant, and in your reading for this module, you will learn about five models that can help you determine the historical significance of your chosen topic.
History vs. Current Events
Historians often disagree on the definition of history and what should be considered the end date of the field of “history” and the start date of “current events.” Some historians argue that at least one generation (20 years or so) needs to pass before we can truly understand events from a historical perspective. Other historians argue that we must wait until everybody who remembers a particular event is dead before we can understand that event free from bias. Others argue that we can look at events that occurred yesterday from a historical perspective. Some historians argue that the dividing line does not move with time but should be tied to a specific event like the collapse of the Soviet Union or the rise of the internet.
There is no right or wrong answer to this issue. In this module, you will read brief explanations from historians about where they place the dividing line between history and current events. You will also read an article on how you can continue to apply historical skills to current events.
Over the course of this class, you have been introduced to the study of history. You have learned why it matters as a subject, how historians practice their craft and share their knowledge, and how events are shaped by their larger historical context. By this module, you have learned the value of examining historical events for their impact on contemporary issues. We are closing this class by asking you, once again, why is history important?
In Module One, it was noted that history means different things to different people, and you considered why history matters. For years, those who study the past have put forth arguments on why they do what they do. Famous for his sixteenth-century work The Prince, Italian diplomat Niccolò Machiavelli (1882) once stated, “Wise men say, and not without reason, that whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past; for human events ever resemble those of preceding times” (p. 422). In this module, you will take what you have learned over the course of this term and consider whether or not Machiavelli’s words still ring true today.
Machiavelli, N. (1882). The historical, political, and diplomatic writings (Vol. II) (C. Detmold, Trans.). Boston, MA: James R. Osgood and Company. Retrieved from https://archive.org/stream/diplomaticwritin02machuoft#page/422/mode/2up