In the AOK Civilizations category, all four courses must emphasize either history
or philosophy or religious studies. Two courses must be in history. Two courses
must be in religious studies or philosophy.
“To be ignorant of what happened before you were born,” wrote Cicero, “is to remain
always a child,” forever at the mercy of the passions and prejudices of the moment.
Historical consciousness is more than the recorded past, the memory of things said
and done, it is those things which continue to shape and affect our lives. History
thus involves the accumulation of facts about the past but it also involves the
achievement of a deeper understanding of human experience and the human condition
through analysis and synthesis. As one’s understanding deepens, we better understand
the particular issues or events and move from the particular to well-reasoned generalizations.
Studying history as a discipline requires one to engage one’s mind with the facts,
ideas, and interpretations conveyed or suggested by historical evidence, to give
context to discrete pieces of evidence, and to devise plausible explanations and
judgements, based on the evidence, that reveal the process of change and continuity
Students should become aware of the difference between the past (the sum of things
that can no longer be changed) and history (our knowledge and understanding of the
past). Understanding necessarily includes historical consciousness, the ability
to distinguish 'facts' from opinion, and awareness of one's own assumptions, ideas,
beliefs and values from the perspective of the past. Students need to be aware that
history is an intellectual discipline of both inquiry and explanation as well as
knowledge of past events. Students should not only learn the necessity of care when
it comes to facts, they should know that the understanding of facts comes from the
power of the human mind operating upon them. History, said Aristotle, deals with
the particular (unlike Poetry which deals with the universal). Therefore, the student
of history must study specific developments at particular times in particular places.
In an area of knowledge course in history, students should demonstrate:
First, knowledge and understanding of the important information and evidence
of a place and time appropriate to the course.
Second, knowledge and understanding of the proper chronological sequence
of events and developments appropriate to a course in the form of narrative.
Third, the ability to recognize, explain and evaluate cause and effect.
Fourth, skill in the analysis of a culture, that is, to take a whole, which
is not immediately knowable, and divide it into categories which can become knowable.
An example of such categorizing is dividing a past society into economic, political,
social, religious, and intellectual components and then describing the interrelatedness
of those components.
Fifth, the ability to compare and contrast one specific culture of the past
Sixth, the ability to read critically, think clearly, and to express knowledge
in writing (through clear and concise essays for the most part) and through speaking.
In order to meet the area of knowledge requirement in history, a course must:
First, instruct students in the nature of historical evidence (which includes
complex events) and the nature of historical sources and resources.
Second, teach the power of historical reasoning including the narrative and
the importance of chronology.
Third, instruct students in the complex relations of cause and effect.
Fourth, develop skills in understanding a specific period of the past through
the analysis of change and continuity within context and the synthesis of diverse
Fifth, compare different cultures and civilizations.
Sixth, develop a students ability to read critically, think clearly, and
to express her or his understanding through speaking and writing.