Why We Need A Holistic Approach To History

Why We Need A Holistic Approach To History

It is necessary is to reshape how we teach basic history courses.
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As a history major, I have come to understand all that is involved in this field. I believe that in many cases, we need to look at history more holistically.

I’ve come to this conclusion based on some experiences I’ve had in my various classes. In one class, I had an extremely positive experience looking at the past. It wasn’t necessarily a history class, but we looked at a combination of historical texts, art, literature, and music, looking not only at the typically studied political and social events of the day, but also the lives of individuals including women and people of color across various social classes. I felt like it was one of the most beneficial ways to study the time period. It gave me a holistic understanding, allowing me to look at the time period with greater understanding than if I had studied the traditional stories of history.

I was made aware of the problems with looking at just one thread of history, the dominant narrative. History, so often written by the victors, frequently will ignore the stories of so many people in that time. Gaining a knowledge of what life could be like for individuals who had experiences that were different from the narrative of Western white men enriched my understanding for time periods from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. It cultivated an inspiration to learn more about these lesser-heard stories. It gave me an appreciation for those who teach history with a holistic approach.

What do I mean by this? Simply that we cannot ignore the lives of those who were not in power when we study history. The dangers of doing so mean that we do not give merit to the lives of the disenfranchised, of the non-winners. And there’s so much more to learn with understanding those stories.

When I talked to my professor about including more women in his class, it was the knowledge of the women who defied the standards of their day that gave me the courage. It was thinking of those specific women from the past that gave me the courage to try to change the present and impact the future.

Many of us recognize the problems that result in only perpetuating the dominate narrative, yet we continue to discuss “other” stories by separating them into different courses.

That is not to say that specific courses on those issues are not necessary; in fact, they are more necessary in order to gain a niche understanding of those narratives.

What does happen in general history courses, however, is that a specific lecture will be devoted to considering the situation of a specific group of people, and that only furthers the distinctions of these people from the dominant narrative.

What is necessary is to reshape how we teach basic history courses by integrating those stories into the curriculum, in weaving those stories together. Because it shows that we all have something to contribute to history, that there are stories of hope and resiliency in something other than the dominant narrative, and that each life makes an impact in history, in ways we cannot fathom if we pay attention only to the dominant narrative.

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If College Majors Were Flowers

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There is a seemingly new trend of "If College Majors Were ___" circulating on Odyssey. I must admit, they're all pretty accurate and fun to read. So find your major on this list and share with your friends to let them know what flower you are based on your college major!


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11 Reasons UH Sugar Land Can't Beat UH Main

Bigger isn't always better, but in this case it fits.

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For the majority of us who are looking at universities to enter once we get out of high school and want to stay close to our Houston base, we're sort of hard-pressed for options. There are only gonna be so many universities in a single city and once you factor in your budget and location preferences, you're usually not in a position to demand too much.

I chose to transfer my classes for my senior year to UH Sugar Land because it was a more convenient drive. And yes, I now don't have to worry about buying exorbitant parking permits and getting lost on campus, but there's still plenty I miss about the Main Campus––here are 11 reasons why the Sugar Land campus can't beat the Main.

1. They have ridiculously limited offerings.

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All right, so maybe I don't have too much cause to complain. I'm an Education major and happen to be in luck because the only undergrad bachelor programs UH Sugar Land has to offer are from the Colleges of Education, Technology, Nursing and Liberal Arts.

Even within those colleges, it's slim pickings.

I lucked out because I'm trying to get certified for elementary but if I were a middle or high school teacher, I'd be making my daily drive to UH Main. It's about time UH Sugar Land started expanding its offerings.

2. The parking lot is tiny.

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All right, maybe UH Main makes you pay horrific sums of money to get a permit (and I've heard people complain about not getting a parking spot despite doling out the cash) so I feel a little guilty picking at this. But, when you have a tiny little lot that's filled before nine in the morning, it's hard not to feel annoyed about having to park in the library parking lot and walk to the building.

They may have a free permit system, but someone has to start keeping track of which cars have these permits because I don't think the students have gotten with that program yet.

3. It doesn't have its own library. 

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I used to live in the UH Main library; I would seriously joke with my friends that it was like my second home whether I was chilling, studying, eating or disturbing the peace of the study rooms when my friends and I got together to watch horror films.

UH Sugar Land proudly announces that we can use the University Branch library, which is right next door. Now, I don't mind that library, but besides the fact that it's always one of the noisiest places on Earth, it really can't meet my college-level needs.

Sure, it's great if I'm trying to check out Moana, but it won't really help me complete my article on the study of how socioeconomic status correlates with behavioral problems in children. And if I actually do find something useful, I have to use a Fort Bend Library card to check it out because my Cougar Card isn't good enough.

4. The only social activities we get are resume preparation sessions.

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It's not that I don't appreciate all the help someone is willing to give me to keep me from bashing my brain when I look at my horrendous resume. At the same time, I do think there is more to life than getting a job. As someone who is already anti-social as it is, I loved having events to look forward to at UH Main and broadening my horizons.

I'm talking Student Program Board events, multicultural parties, the works…Whereas at the Sugar Land campus, I suppose I'm lucky to even attend the occasional career preparation workshop here and there.

5. It's sort of tiny.

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There never is a happy middle, is there? I spent my first days at UH Main walking around with my nose pressed into my phone as I tried to decipher the GPS, and being hopelessly late to classes because I could never understand what my GPS meant by "400 feet."

Well, it's almost impossible to get lost at UH Sugar Land, because there are only two buildings which are seriously right next to each other, and we share one with the Wharton Community College.

Now, that actually sounds like a plus point, but believe me, less buildings isn't always the best. It means fewer classes, fewer services and really the only refreshing walk you can get is in walking the five steps between the buildings.

6. It's easier to starve.

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The Sugar Land campus is not the place you want to go when you're craving a good snack or meal––and as hungry college students we all know how frequently those cravings hit.

Forget Pizza Hut and Subway, it's rare to find a single food truck on the Sugar Land campus; I think they realize how momentous the appearance of any food truck is becacuse they post flyers like that food truck is manna from heaven. And if you're Muslim and can only eat Halal, then you had better up your sack-lunch game.

7. We have to share with Wharton.

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Now, I know a lot of my complaints seem more applicable to reasons I hate sharing rather than reasons the Sugar Land campus can't beat Main, but that's because it's a common sense issue. If you only have two buildings total and you decide to act on the whole "sharing is caring" thing by handing some classes and computer space to Wharton, you're left with an even smaller part. In fact, forget common sense; that, my friends, is elementary mathematics.

8. You get way less free stuff.

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This is no joking matter, y'all. Half the time I only showed up to some of the events at the Main Campus because I knew freebies were involved. I've gotten cool spray paint art, a plethora of shirts and a bunch of other trinkets. But the Sugar Land campus does give out good red sunglasses. I think I've already gathered about six pairs of those.

9. Many professors have office hours at Main Campus.

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Ok, I understand that with the small population at Sugar Land, most professors will probably be doing some portion of teaching at Main Campus too. What I don't understand is why they can't choose to divide their office hours between both campuses. There's a reason I'm not driving all the way to downtown Houston and the thought of having to do so just to ask an important question about my next math project makes me want to just give it all up and wing it.

10. There's no prayer room. 

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Or sacred room. Or reflection room.

As a Muslim, I have to pray five times a day and let me tell you, there is nothing I miss more than the AD Bruce Religion building on the Main Campus when I'm trying to scout for an empty classroom on the Sugar Land Campus to quickly pray. I have to constantly worry about whether someone will come in at any moment and really, how difficult would it be to set aside a quiet meditation/ religious center in some old class?

11. It lacks aesthetic and historical value.

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On the Main Campus, I've been on several guided tours. One was offered by the geology department to explain the history behind many of the different earthen materials that can be found on campus. Another was offered by the art department to display important statues, sculptures, paintings and other artwork that featured a large part of the history of the campus.

Main even has an entire art museum to itself!

Forget seeing innovative art or historical emblems on the Sugar Land campus, I think it's impressive that they have any sort of art at all. I'm not asking for another museum, but some aesthetic richness would be appreciated.

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