Eurocentric history dept?

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Re: “Viewing the world through the West’s eyes”
Jan. 11, 2007

To the Editor:
As a fourth-year history student, I was extremely shocked and disappointed with your article “Viewing the world through the West’s eyes.”

There were many inaccuracies in the article and it portrayed the history department in a very poor light. Throughout my years at Western, I have had the opportunity to take many different history courses and I think Western offers great variety in its courses and tries to appeal to everyone’s interests. Just look at the course calendar; you’ll realize there are more than 20 different courses offered that aren’t North American or European.

The article claims students are forced to take four European courses, but this is false. As part of a history degree, we are required to take one Canadian History course, one American history course and Europe in the 16th and 17th century. These courses are necessary for any history student in Canada for obvious reasons and they don’t reflect Eurocentricism; they merely recognize the importance of these courses to any history student.

It’s also important not to undermine the important world events that just happen to have taken place in North America and Europe. Many of the so-called European courses deal with events like the two world wars, two major events in world history.

History teaches us that everything is related and, to understand something completely, every angle must be studied and analyzed. For people to say it’s Eurocentric is simply wrong, because everything is connected and it’s only through understanding all kinds of history that people can people realize this. European, Canadian and American history is included in this and shouldn’t be discredited or misrepresented as Eurocentric.
"Sara Farrell
History & French IV

Ed note: The Gazette article said students must take four North American or European based courses, not four European courses.


To the Editor:
In regards to the article printed Thursday, I merely wish to echo the distresses found in the constraints of the history program as well as possibly extend it beyond to other faculties. While I understand there must be guidelines to get a specific degree, as an honours history student I feel I have little choice in what I can take year to year that actually interests me. Having diversity in the faculty of history may have tremendous advantages if combined with a “laissez-faire” course-choosing system. This system, if enacted, would allow greater freedom for individuals who feel constrained by the social science regime.

Commenting specifically on the courses provided, I completely agree there is a large European bias. Having said this, I also see a large “Western” European bias which overshadows any significant advancements of “Eastern” nations. I believe that, in an ever-expanding intellectual world, we should be open to other nations which interest us, all the while choosing what we want to study, not what we need to do to get a paper certificate.
"Michal Kniec
History & Classical Studies II

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