“Engage with Other Perspectives and Worldviews”: Emmey Harris on the History Major

Emmey Harris, a woman with brunette hair wearing a light pink shirt, sits in an Anselm House lobby
Emmey Harris

Emmey Harris (BA ‘24) shares her experience as a history major and discusses how her liberal arts education is preparing her for life after graduation. From her learning abroad experience in Ireland to the impact of CLA’s and the history department’s supportive faculty, Harris explains how important it is to think critically about the past and why interpreting history is crucial in today’s day and age.

What led you to the history major?

The study of history is very important for understanding our world today. History as a discipline promotes critical thinking, analyzing evidence, and the ability to engage with other perspectives and worldviews. I'm fascinated by stories and narratives, understanding how people who are different from me live, and recognizing different perspectives based on historical and cultural context. It’s also very interesting to see commonalities across different time periods, cultures, and places.

Why did you choose to study at the University of Minnesota?

The history program here provides a rich foundation for undergraduate students. Faculty members are supportive and care about students' ideas, whether that's in an essay, undergraduate research, or just asking questions in class and participating in class discussions. The history department is great for helping undergraduate students find out what they're passionate about and find the resources to pursue those passions.

What new passions have you discovered here?

I’ve discovered a love of historical documents and books. I've been able to pursue that passion through working at the archives here at the U, and through the internship that I did studying abroad.

Tell us more about doing an internship abroad!

Last summer I was lucky enough to study abroad in Ireland, which included doing an internship at a historic library. That was a really formative experience because I got practical experience in the museum field, which is a career path I’m interested in. I was also able to see how people from around the world think about history, what perspectives they bring, and what learning about history is like in other parts of the world. I’m able to bring those diverse perspectives I encountered with me into the classroom moving forward.

The CLA Internship Scholarship and other opportunities support and encourage students to look for practical experience in their fields.

How does CLA’s history program help students prepare for post-college life?

The history department and CLA both encourage critical thinking and stress the ability to understand the context of an issue and appreciate everyone's input on a topic. CLA promotes a diversity of opinion, as well as the ability to support opinions with evidence and think critically about difficult subjects that are important for today's world.

What’s it like to study history amidst the prominent historical events today?

It's important to not just learn facts or memorize information, but to form thoughtful interpretations and to examine the past critically. That's really valuable in today's world as we are now reframing a lot of how we've traditionally thought about history.

What would you say to high school students wanting to study history here?

The University of Minnesota is a great place to do that because there's just so much to offer. Truly, whatever you're interested in, there will be a class or a professor who can teach you more about it and point you towards where you can learn more about and even study it for yourself. We have so many resources available through our libraries and other incredible opportunities. There are so many fresh and new ideas to engage with here.

Career Ready

As a history student, you will develop ten core competencies to prepare you for your future career, including:

Develop a consciousness about your potential contributions and roles in the many communities you inhabit, in person and online, and take action accordingly.

  • Actively engage with the communities in which you are involved.
  • Build awareness of how communities impact individuals, and how, in turn, an individual impacts, serves, and shapes communities.
  • Evolve your awareness of culture and power in community dynamics.

Comprehensively explore issues, ideas, knowledge, evidence, and values before accepting or formulating an opinion or conclusion.

  • Recognize there may be more than one valid point of view.
  • Evaluate an issue or problem based on multiple perspectives, while accounting for personal biases.
  • Identify when information is missing or if there is a problem, prior to coming to conclusions and making decisions.

Cultivate awareness of your own identity and cultural background and that of others through an exploration of domains of diversity, which may include: race, ethnicity, country of origin, sexual orientation, ability, class, gender, age, spirituality, etc. This requires an understanding of historical and social contexts and a willingness to confront perspectives of dominant cultural narratives and ideologies, locally, nationally, or globally.

  • Understand how culture affects perceptions, attitudes, values, and behaviors
  • Recognize how social structures and systems create and perpetuate inequities, resulting in social and economic marginalization and limited opportunities
  • Commit to the fundamental principles of freedom of thought and expression, equality, respect for others, diversity, and social justice; and to participate in society as conscious global citizens
  • Navigate an increasingly complex and diverse world by appreciating and adopting multiple cultural perspectives or worldviews


This story was edited by Kylie Kendall, an undergraduate student in CLA.

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