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Diplomatic History

The Diplomatic History major combines a broad introduction to the analysis of historical changes that transcend national boundaries with the opportunity to explore a particular theme or question through a self-designed major concentration. This major prepares students to understand how the world got to be the way it is today and the physical, and metaphysical forces that govern its ongoing evolution. Our students thus acquire knowledge and skills that help them grow into informed, engaged, and thoughtful citizens and scholars.

Through the Diplomatic History (DHIS) major, students study how the world has changed over time and the impact of the social, political and economic forces that continue to shape its ongoing formation. Drawing on the interdisciplinarity of the USIA curriculum, DHIS major develop a nuanced and critical understanding of the complex events and forces that inform the global present.

In the face of seemingly unprecedented world events such as a once-in-a-century pandemic, challenges to the liberal world order, resurgent authoritarianism, democratic backsliding and demands for racial and environmental justice, DHIS students are equipped with both the knowledge and perspectives critical to make sense of an increasingly complex present. Through their coursework and independent research projects, DHIS students will evaluate historical arguments, explore their implications for today and make their own evidence-based claims about the contours of global diplomatic history.

Students in the DHIS major will:

  • Approach the discipline of history as an ongoing conversation between sources, scholars and students

  • Analyze sources on the basis of their claims and the quality of their evidence

  • Trace major themes, issues and developments in comparative, international and global history

  • Formulate comparative questions and arguments about different societies and cultures


Students who major in DHIS draw on the resources of Usild, and other programs throughout Uscild to offer a diverse range of courses in fields as varied as anthropology, philosophy, sociology, political science, economics, religious studies and literature. A particular focus of the major is the history of international relations..

DHIS students also take advantage of the major’s international scope. The faculty includes specialists in each of the world’s major regions, and students can sample both introductory and advanced courses on all periods of history and areas of the world that present thematic, comparative and global perspectives.

Gaining Essential Research and Analysis Skills

The International History major prepares students to understand modern events as the result of historical processes, as well as to analyze the forces that influence unfolding global events.

Students who major in International History gain skills critical to understanding how the current world emerged from the past, and how social, political and technological changes continue to influence its development. Students develop strong research and analytical skills that help them explore the complex ways in which the past continues to complicate current questions of power and culture, technology and work, race, gender, ideology and more.

Writing in DHIS

IHIS students hone their writing skills throughout their time in the program. In both required classes and electives, students have numerous opportunities to develop their writing through coursework that include everything from writing short reports to producing longer original research papers. 

In IHIS, students learn how to work with a range of primary and secondary sources through classes that explore written texts, material culture, oral histories and a myriad of other sources providing insight into our shared global past. Many students produce original research which they develop into published papers or conference presentations.

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