Department of History
|History students get a black-powder demonstration on a class field trip to a Revolutionary War battlefield.|
The History Department offers a wide range of courses to satisfy a General Education requirement, the Bachelor of Arts, as well as to pursue a major in History, History/Political Science, History/Religion or to become licensed to teach middle grades and high school social studies. All Greensboro College students take four semester hours of history to enable them to achieve a sense of history as stated in the College’s mission statement. The history major presents a wide range of courses. All students pursuing this major take three introductory survey courses in United States and world history. With this background, the history major is ready for more advanced topics, examples of which include U.S. foreign relations, North Carolina history, African American history, Women’s History, the Civil Rights Movements, the Civil War, nationalism, the history of political ideas, and the History of Education. The capstone course is a seminar devoted to the historian’s craft, in which seniors read and discuss significant works of historical literature, and write a major research paper.
|Assistant Professor Allison Palmadessa frequently works with students in small groups.|
All of the History faculty employ a variety of engaged teaching techniques in their classrooms and expose students to a variety of textual, visual and material sources for learning history. Some classes also feature field trips and community projects as well as class guests. Students are also strongly encouraged to gain professional experience outside of the classroom as interns at local historic site and museums working under the supervision of History faculty.
Areas of Study
Major: History (B.A.) Major: History with Social Studies Licensure (B.A.) Major: History & Political Science (B.A., B.S.) Major: History & Religion (B.A.) Minor: History
2016-17 Undergraduate Academic Catalog (degree requirements, pp. 166-167; class offerings, pp. 241-245)
Memberships & Accreditations
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
- National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
Our department is special because…
The study of history can be engaging and enlightening in a number of ways. Understanding the past helps put the present in context. It is also useful to appreciate that while our lives, as those of previous generations, are shaped by large historical forces, individuals and groups of people have also had the power to shape history. On a more practical level, a History class can be one of the best places to develop analytical skills and the ability to communicate ideas effectively orally and in writing. The History faculty members are active scholars and dedicated teachers who have written monographs, journal articles, conference papers, book reviews and encyclopedia entries, and helped to create websites. They actively pursue their historical passions by conducting field interviews in rural Mississippi, and researching history of contemporary American higher education. They also all employ a variety of teaching techniques in their classroom beyond just lecturing that engage students. The History faculty have had their syllabi selected as best practices models, have presented at teaching conferences, and have won prestigious teaching awards at GC.
How would a student benefit from the program?
The Greensboro College History Department is unique given the size and nature of its faculty. The small number of faculty and students make it possible for faculty to develop closer relationships with students inside and outside the classroom. History courses are among the most demanding, and thus potentially rewarding, classes on campus.
What makes the GC program different from/stronger than others?
Ways to become involved include:
- Joining Phi Alpha Theta (National History Honors Society). Students are eligible to be inducted into PAT if they meet certain academic criteria.
- Interviewing a GC alumnus or alumna to add to the Alumni Oral History Project.
- Working as part of a class or as an intern to update exhibits on GC history, such as “A Glimpse of GC’s African American History”, created by GC students in Spring 2016.
Success stories of recent grads
- GC History alum Dr. Jeremy Kinney (1994) is a curator in the Aeronautics Division of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum; he’s shown here with the Wright Flyer.
- Kendra Leghart (a 2009 GC alum), an honors History-Political Science major and Legal Administration minor, is currently a litigator in Los Angeles. While at GC, Kendra played softball and spent a semester studying abroad in Prague. That led her to write her senior honors thesis on the development of Czech nationalism.
- Justin Payne (a 2009 GC alum), an honors History major, is a Greensboro police officer. While at GC, Justin created an award-winning website on the history of Greensboro’s J.C. Price School, based on work he and his classmates did in a community history project. Justin also conducted oral history interviews with GC alumni active in Greensboro’s civil rights movement which are now part of the “Civil Rights Greensboro” collection. Officer Payne serves the Warnersville community, where Price School was located.
- Bridget Hall, who graduated in 2016, received the William Henry and Martha Grant Likins Award, presented annually to the top graduating adult undergraduate student. Hall, a double major in history and religion, is pursuing her M.Div. degree at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, having turned down a full scholarship to Harvard Divinity School. A single mother, Hall served as secretary of the senior class and chief student marshal and was inducted into the Phi Alpha Theta and Theta Alpha Kappa history and religion honor societies, respectively.Outside the classroom, Hall also took part in a hunger-focused mission trip, volunteered with an on-campus summer educational-enrichment program for children, and served as logistics chair for the college’s Relay for Life, a fundraiser for cancer research.
Teaching Style & Accolades
The History faculty members are active scholars and dedicated teachers who have written monographs, journal articles, conference papers, book reviews and encyclopedia entries, and helped to create websites. They actively pursue their historical passions by conducting field interviews in rural Mississippi, experiencing firsthand the diverse cultures of the Middle East, and pursuing scholarly research at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. They also all employ a variety of teaching techniques in their classroom that engage students. The History faculty have had their syllabi selected as best-practices models, have presented at teaching conferences, and have won prestigious teaching awards at GC.
- Professor Michael Sistrom, Department Chair, won the 2006 Virginia Clarke Grey and 2008 Alumni Outstanding Teaching Awards. The community history project Professor Sistrom’s class did on Greensboro’s former J.C. Price School (the website that grew out of the project) won the 2012 Greensboro Historical Museum’s Voices of the City Award for outstanding community history project. His manuscript, “Defining Black Power: The Mississippi Freedom Democrats and the Redefinition of Politics” will be published in 2015.
- Dr. Allison Palmadessa ’03 joined the full-time faculty early in 2014 and won the 2016 Virginia Clarke Grey Award, which honors junior faculty. She also was selected by the Class of 2016 to be its Baccalaureate speaker. Dr. Palmadessa has published articles in journals such as Higher Education in Review and The Journal of Higher Education. She has presented multiple research papers at national conferences, most recently at the annual conference for The Association for the Study of Higher Education. Dr. Palmadessa is also currently completing a manuscript on the history of federal higher education policy, due to be published in 2017. Dr. Palmadessa is also active in Guilford County Schools serving on the School Based Leadership Team for Northern Schools.
- Dr. Susan Thomas, GC alum, is a frequent part-time instructor in the History Department.
“I am a History and Sociology major and a Business and Legal Administration minor. My other minor is in Humanities, through the Honors Program. Greensboro College was my first choice of schools. It is the perfect combination of a small-school atmosphere with big-school opportunities and faculty. “You have so much flexibility in what you want to study, you can pursue any interests you wish. I love this aspect particularly because I am not limited in the areas I can study and can get to know my professors really well. The faculty will go the extra mile for you because they are all genuinely interested in your learning. It is just a great place to be.” Melanie Smith, Class of 2017
History students are strongly encouraged to gain professional experience outside the classroom as interns working under the supervision of History faculty. They can replace one of their 3000-level History courses with a semester-long internship. Over the past several years, eight students have completed a variety of internship projects including:
- helping to staff a national historic park
- creating a new exhibit for the Brock Historical Museum (and Archives) of Greensboro College (read Stacey Smith ’07’s account of that work here).
- digitizing early 20th century editions of the college newspaper and yearbooks
- developing curriculum materials for local teachers tied to historic sites and museums in Greensboro
- launching a website preserving the history of a local African American school
- and serving as a teaching and research assistant for History faculty.
For additional information, please visit Career Exploration and Development.
Master’s degree in museum studies from the University of Oklahoma; now employed by the City of Raleigh Museum. If you were to look up the word “internship” in the dictionary, you would find words such as “train,” “educate,” and “experience.” Although those words define an internship, they do little to express the wealth of knowledge and the incredible insight that a student can gain from participating in an internship. Nor do they do justice to the excitement that comes to a student who discovers a calling through an internship. I was one of those lucky students who had the opportunity to do not one, but two internships during my time at Greensboro College. Both internships were wonderful opportunities and provided me with both professional knowledge and life lessons that have served me well in the years since I graduated. My first internship was with the city of Greensboro’s Tannenbaum Historic Park, where I researched the historic Hoskins family and created a website about them and their influence throughout their time here in Greensboro during the American Revolution and afterward. I supplemented the text with digital images such as a portrait of their land prior to the Revolution; pictures of the exhibit that exists in the museum itself; and digital images of official documents such as Joseph Hoskins’ will, which I learned to scan during the internship. Outside of school assignments, I had not had much experience with digital programs, designs, and the like, and this internship gave me a chance to see what went into designing a website. My second internship was in the college’s Brock Historical Museum, working with the museum’s director, Lindsey Lambert, to create an exhibit about Lucy Robertson, who was and remains our college’s only female president. I learned many valuable skills, such as how to scan and digitally restore antique documents, create and edit text panels, and even how to construct the exhibit itself. I am proud to say that the exhibit has become a permanent fixture in Brock Museum. The most rewarding part was discovering that I want to devote my life to being a curator and helping to educate people through museum work. This internship was the key to helping me to realize my dream of being a curator and the driving force that has propelled me forward academically and professionally since. In fact, having completed my master’s degree at Oklahoma University, I have joined the staff of the City of Raleigh Museum. (UPDATE, Nov 4, 2015: Stacey has been named director of the Sallie Mae Ligon Museum & Archives in Oxford, N.C., and will remain on the staff of the City of Raleigh Museum as well.) While I enjoyed both internships, the one that changed my life and my future was the internship I did at our college’s Brock Museum. My time at Greensboro College and working at these internships was an extraordinary experience that not only increased my knowledge and awakened my spirit, but also enriched my life. I will always be grateful for that.