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History Advising Information

Information specific to this program is provided below. The full course catalog, policies, textbook information, and major declaration form are available from the Office of the Registrar. For additional advising information, contact your academic advisor. Course offerings are subject to change due to staffing, curriculum changes, or course enrollment numbers.

  • Having actual work experience to place in your résumé is very important when attempting to find employment after college. You may want to consider enrolling in an internship, taking a position with the history department in one of the digital history projects or as a tutor for American or European history surveys, or volunteering with a local historical society while in college. Each of these options can provide you both with experience and an opportunity to learn if you would enjoy a given occupation. Please speak with a member of the history department if you are interested in any of the above suggestions.

    As a liberal arts degree, history will help you develop skills and abilities in research, writing, and critical thinking that are essential to success in any profession. You may wish to consider minoring (or double majoring) in another field to give you more preparation in a particular skill or knowledge area or for particular professional training. For example, combining history with English provides more depth in studying either English or American culture and will significantly enhance writing skills. Adding theology will develop reasoning and draw attention to the historicity of Christianity. A  business major or minor provides professional training that, can help prepare you for a specific career path, or serve as a first step to post-graduate professional training. Other common combinations include anthropology, biology, education, music, politics and law, and Spanish. To be sure, adding a history major or minor to any other of the majors and minors offered at WLC can be a valuable supplement, shaping research, interpretative, reading, and writing skills.

    When taking your Senior Thesis class, be sure not to overload your schedule. Researching and writing a thesis requires a great deal of time. Consider your Senior Thesis as being the equivalent of two full-time classes.

    After finishing college, many students continue with graduate work. The history faculty members at Wisconsin Lutheran College want to help you succeed at that level. We are always prepared to answer your questions and advise you on graduate school. As passing a foreign language test is required for all graduate school programs, we encourage our students to enroll early in language courses here at Wisconsin Lutheran College.

    Finally, the faculty is ready to advise you on your courses, class load, and future goals at all times. Students are encouraged to stop by and chat with their professors in order to build a good working relationship.


    Martin Luther certainly understood the value and importance of history, but especially of history as understood broadly through the lens of Truth. Luther believed that history is and should be useful. It is a moral tool, giving "indications, memorials, and tokens" of "divine works and judgments." History can show how God "sustains, rules, checks, furthers, punishes, and honors the world." Given that history can teach morality in practical ways, Luther argued that "historians are most useful people and the best of teachers; we can never sufficiently honor, praise, or thank them." For a Christian history can then provide lessons about good and evil, sin and its consequences, the abuse of free will, and most certainly God's grace and the way that Christian thought and action has and can influence the course of events for God's glory. History is thus especially useful for potential leaders, who can orient their decisions for the present and future with wisdom and lessons gained from the past.

    Indeed, Luther writes that, "Rulers would derive the greatest benefit from reading or having read to them, from youth on, the histories... in which they would find more examples of skill in ruling than in all the books of law." Schools, according to Luther, should thus stress the teaching of history. Emphasis on studying the past would allow students to "place before themselves, as in a mirror, the character, life, counsels, and purposes, successes and failure, of the whole world from the beginning. As a result of this knowledge, they could form their own opinions and adapt themselves in the fear of God to life in this world." Again, history orients one in his world of endeavor. Understood in the context of Truth, history comforts, nourishes, and warns. One can see God's grace and the terrible consequences sin has brought upon this fallen world. How can anyone look honestly upon the horrors that man has inflicted upon himself and upon this world and not see that something about this world is not deeply broken? How can one not look upon all of man's failed efforts to create utopias, often only to create dystopias, and wonder about the need for help from a higher power? Like nature, history cannot reveal who God is. It can demonstrate man's fallen state. It can demonstrate God's sustaining grace and goodness despite man's fallen state. It can edify faith or cause one to seek to know who God is.

    God is, of course, the Lord of history, but one must be very careful in reading God's will into historical events. As Luther wrote, God "holds everything in His hand, and it rides on His might, like a ship on the sea, nay, like a cloud in the sky." God has revealed a great deal of historical knowledge in the Holy Scriptures-knowledge that must be accepted by faith. One cannot clearly see how God works in history outside of these events. His hand is there, but it is hidden. Luther writes:

    Great spirit and singular industriousness are found in Hannibal; so he imagines that he conquered the Romans by reason of these qualities. Still greater talents are found in Alexander. Equipped with these, he carries everything to a successful conclusion. But these are, as it were, masks. They alone strike our eye, but the divine governance, by which empires are either established or overthrown, does not strike our eye.

    So, history should not and cannot be taught like some sort of game that guesses at the mind of God. One cannot know why God, for example, allowed a man like Hitler to rise to power in Germany and torment the world for twelve long years of the twentieth century. One can only know what the Holy Spirit tells us through St. Paul: "We know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

    To the end of more clearly defining this Lutheran perspective on the philosophy and usefulness of history, the Wisconsin Lutheran College Department of History with the help of the college's Department of Theology formulated eight statements outlining a Lutheran School of history:

    1. God is the creator and ruler of the universe. He is always in control.
    2. Although God does intervene in human events, for the most part he works in a hidden way in history. Therefore, the Lutheran historian often cannot distinguish God's short-term role or plan.
    3. God can and will use all events and individuals, good as well as evil, to reach his ultimate plan. Usually, however, God's intervention comes through natural means, and therefore the Lutheran historian will investigate earthly cause and effect rather than glibly asserting God as the cause of specific events and outcomes.
    4. God created man in his image. Because of the fall into sin, however, mankind turned away from God and became sinfully self-centered. Because of the pervasive nature of sin, Lutheran historians do not expect that human history will reveal an upward evolution in goodness or morality.
    5. God, however, did not give up on man. The turning point of all history was the years of Jesus Christ's life on earth. Before this, God brought people into his Kingdom primarily through the nation of Israel; after this he used the church to expand his Kingdom throughout the world.
    6. By the Holy Spirit's power in the preaching of Law and Gospel and the ministry of the Sacraments, God continues to call man back to himself. While the working of the Spirit is invisible, the fruits of his work can often be seen in history. Yet even here the leaven of sin often taints the earthly legacy of the earthly church. Thus the church must be always reforming itself.
    7. While as a result of the marred image of God, unrepentant man can still at times use his reason and conscience to seek what appears to be morally good, such attempts can never be truly beneficial for mankind unless they are enhanced by Christian faith via the revealed knowledge of Scripture.
    8. The Lutheran historian does not see history as primarily cyclical, evolutionary, or random, but as teleological and Christological. It has always been moving towards the goal established by God - Christ's second coming in power and glory. Until that day, the Lutheran historian does not expect an earthly millennium or an end to social evils. Yet Christians will continue to do good to all and live in hope as Christ-like lights within the darkness.

    These statements, in full or in summary, appear in the department's history syllabi and inform the teaching of history at Wisconsin Lutheran College.


    Fourth-Century Christianity is a website promoting and storing research tools and texts for the study of the Church and its environment in the Fourth Century. The site is sponsored by the History Department of Wisconsin Lutheran College and by Asia Lutheran Seminary, under the direction of Dr. Glen L. Thompson.



    Wisconsin Lutheran College Alpha Theta Upsilon Chapter

    • Established March 17, 1921, at the University of Arkansas
    • Charter Member of Association of College Honor Societies (ACHS)
    • 820 active chapters and 275,000 members
    • 12,500 member and over 1,000 library subscribers to The Historian (quarterly journal)
    • 2,500 subscribers to The News Letter (published three times annually)
    • 9,100 initiates (average annually)
    • 35 regional meetings nationwide each spring
    • Over 25 scholarships and prizes awarded annually (paper prizes, book awards, manuscript award, best chapter awards, student history journal awards, world history award, etc.).
    • Membership qualifications (undergraduate)
      • At least 3.1 minimum GPA in 12 or more credit hours of history
      • At least 3.0 minimum overall GPA
      • When class rank is available, should be in upper 35% of class
      • Not necessary to be history major
    • Membership benefits include:
      • One year subscription to The Historian, the Phi Alpha Theta quarterly academic journal.
      • One year subscription to the Phi Alpha Theta newsletter.
      • Membership card and certificate.
      • Access to regional and bi-annual national meetings, providing excellent opportunities for undergraduate students to present papers. Visit the website for details.

    Those interested in membership should contact faculty advisor, Dr. Aaron Palmer. There is a ONE TIME initiation fee of $40. Initiation will be in late April, and dues must usually be paid by APRIL 15 to ensure timely processing by the national office.