Oral History

With every passing day, I find it harder and harder to justify choosing a social or “soft” science major as opposed to a natural or “hard” science major. Having experience in the “hard” sciences is arguably more useful and better prepares you for the job market. While I plan to major in Environmental Policy, Institutions, & Behavior (EPIB), a social science, I actually sort of agree with this train of thought. It is definitely a lot harder to get a job with an Art or History degree than it is a Biology or Engineering degree.

However, I think there is more to a college degree than the acquisition of a job. College is a  place for enlightenment and a major should not be the only thing that determines what you decide to do for a living. I could easily argue that experiential learning is just as, if not more, important than your actual degree. What I’m essentially saying is that your major should not be the end-all-be-all factor in deciding what career you choose. I know plenty of people who majored in fields like French or Civil Engineering who ended up going to medical school and succeeding.

Even though I conceded earlier that some majors are more useful than others, I wholeheartedly encourage anyone who is passionate about history to earn a degree in that field. Again, if you want to get a job, experiential learning and internship opportunities are a thing, but study something that you think you would enjoy having as a career. This particular reading noted something about studying history that really spoke to me and is, in my opinion, the main reason why history must be heavily studied. At several points in the article, the authors allude to the fact that history gives people context and perspective on issues of the past in order to more appropriately interpret issues in the present. As a person who really enjoys studying history, I 100% agree with this sentiment. I would like to consider myself pretty politically aware; I can attribute most of my passion and interest in learning about politics to my experience as a student in APUSH (Advanced Placement United States History). Even though I performed abysmally in the class itself, I got a 5 on the AP Exam. This is mainly because I didn’t bother to do many of the mandatory assigned readings, which constituted a significant part of the course grade. Even so, I found myself regularly engaged and active during the lectures themselves, because it’s just so intriguing to learn about societies of the past, why certain people acted a certain way, and how they shaped the world as it exists today. To me, it’s crazy that something as obscene as institutional, de jure racism (i.e. Jim Crow) existed in prominence 75 years ago. It is necessary that people study history and utilize their knowledge to ensure that things like institutional discrimination do not become a recurring thing. I’m not saying that the more people with history degrees, the less tragedy happens; I think it’s just better for more people to have informed perspectives on the nature of societies as a whole so that they can get a better grasp of reality in the modern world.

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We certainly don’t want stuff like this ^^^ to be a thing

The article also concerns itself with the apparent “controversy” that oral history has among those in the history community. I believe oral history to be an interesting twist when it comes to research and analysis. The authors assert that the more flexible nature of oral history makes it much easier for researchers to inquire and interview those who are not recognized as part of the “elite”. Oral history would allow researchers to get information from historically underclasses or underprivileged demographics, such as minority groups, women, lower-income individuals, and so on. I believe this to be a good train of thought. It is very important to get varying perspectives on society with recording history; there is little to no room for much subjectivity, so anything that makes analysis more objective is great.

 

 

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Oral History

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