Ideas and Intellectuals

Ideas shape the world we live in—from why we get married, to what we believe will happen after we die, to why we support a particular political party, to what we believe will make us more prosperous. These ideas have histories. What we believe is not the same as what other people in other places and other times have believed. Why is this the case? Why have some ways of knowing come to dominate in some periods and places, and not in others? Why have certain notions about politics, economics, culture, and the natural world pushed aside competing claims? What roles have intellectuals played in creating and disseminating important ideas? How do particular frames of reference shape our understandings of history? What is the relationship between material conditions and the development of a robust intellectual culture? There are many ways to approach the history of ideas, ideologies, and intellectuals. Yale’s history department offers courses that focus on the history of philosophy, science, religion, and political and economic thought, as well as broader social ideas. Some courses focus on intellectuals and the development of particular schools of thought; others seek to put the realm of ideas into a range of social, economic or political contexts. Yale undergraduates can select from a range of courses focusing on ideas from the ancient to the contemporary, and from China to the Americas.
Faculty advisers: Abbas Amanat, Paola Bertucci, Rosie Bsheer, Deborah Coen, Rohit De, Carolyn Dean, Fabian Drixler, Carlos Eire, Joanne Freeman, John Gaddis, Beverly Gage, Valerie Hansen, Ivan Marcus, Samuel Moyn, Isaac Nakhimovsky, Steven Pincus, Terence Renaud, Stuart Semmel, Marci Shore, David Sorkin, Francesca Trivellato
Specialist Track requirements: Students specializing in this region must complete at least five of the courses listed below. For additional requirements of the major, see Requirements of the Major.
Course numbers: History course numbers denote region of the world rather than degree of difficulty. 100-level courses are U.S. history; 200-level are European history; 300-level include courses from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America; 400-level courses are global, covering many regions of the world.
Course numbers also convey information about the type of course being offered. Courses beginning with “0” (i.e. HIST 012) are freshman seminars; courses with a three-digit number (i.e. HIST 113) are lectures, open to all students; courses with a “J” suffix (i.e. HIST 136J) are departmental seminars.
Students may petition the Director of Undergraduate Studies to include other HIST courses within a pathway if their written work for the course is directly relevant to the pathway.