In WSJ, Davidson History Majors Stand Up for Their Studies

Two Davidson history majors argued for the value and continued relevance of their studies in the Wall Street Journal. Their letters are featured in the “Future View” section, a recurring department that poses questions to college students.

At the suggestion of William R. Kenan Professor of History John Wertheimer, Kelley Scholars Olivia Daniels ’19 and Ethan Ehrenhaft ’20 wrote to defend the study of history in an era that places ever greater emphasis on disciplines with immediate and obvious connections to professional careers.

Daniels and Ehrenhaft both found that the rich stories they explored in the classroom gave them deeper understanding of the present.

“The study of history made me consider the complex, multidimensional stories behind every event, person, place and trend,” Daniels wrote.

Ehrenhaft argued that the skills a history major develops may not translate to a specific career but they are foundational in any field.

“Everything has a history, from economics to neuroscience, and I see these diverse interests reflected in the work of my peers,” he wrote. “Each of us can find an area of fascination to explore. History also forces students to write argumentatively, a skill that has yet to be automated, and it examines the consequences of past mistakes -- an important pursuit.”

Their pieces are available in full on (subscription required).


  • May 15, 2019