The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

Stop discrediting the study of history.

Zoё Obenza-Bridges

As a history major, I have been told countless times by relatives and hometown friends that I shouldn’t be pursuing it. 

The common rhetoric thrown at me is that the subject is dead and that I should be studying something more useful like computer science or economics, something that will give me a modern job.

While I see nothing wrong with studying computer science or economics, the importance of history should not be doubted.

Everyone has heard that history repeats itself. 

The phrase is fairly accurate in its definition, as common historical trends and themes have continuously cycled throughout time.

Some trends regarding economics and social issues repeat themselves in our modern day. For instance, the on-going technological revolution can be paralleled with past surges in technological advancements, such as the Printing Revolution of the 1400s and the Industrial Revolution of the 1800s, according to a June 30, 2020 Pew Research study.

The trend cycle can also be applied to the rise and fall of certain political ideologies, such as descent into authoritarianism or economic depressions. 

Historically, the rise of far-right ideologies in Europe is well-known due to the events of World War II and Nazism. However, more recently, these ideologies have resurged in many European countries. 

Most infamously, Poland saw a significant increase in far-right nationalism over the rule of former prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski from 2003-2023, according to a Oct. 16, 2023 NPR article.  

Poland’s far-right party, the Law and Justice Party, was ousted in October of 2023 by a coalition formed between the more progressive parties in the legislature, according to the same NPR article.

Other nations have had less publicized far-right surges, such as Italy’s current ruling party, the Brothers of Italy, having been founded by neo-fascists with the prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, who has an extreme fascist background, according to a Feb. 2023 Foreign Policy article. 

One of the most shocking resurgences has been in Germany, with the rise of the far right Alternative for Germany party in recent years, according to a Jan. 23 Washington Post article

All of these may seem to have nothing to do with history. They all take place in the present and have significant effects for the future, but looking back at our past is the best way to prevent these ideologies from rising further.

Studying the past better prepares us for our futures.

History isn’t only useful for preventing the mistakes of the past, it is also a useful major for employment—despite what others might say. 

History is one of the most useful degrees for entry into law school, according to a Feb. 23 Forbes article

Typically history includes the study of historical methods of justice, which can provide necessary techniques for a future in law. 

The most common employment for those with a history degree is in academia, whether it’s being a college professor or a high school history teacher, according to a Dec. 23, 2023 LinkedIn study

Librarians, museum staff, park rangers and various jobs in federal or state governments are also some of the most popular for history majors, according to the same LinkedIn study.

There are plenty of employment opportunities for history majors, and even if there weren’t, the field should still be studied and respected just like any other. 

If students stop studying history, the warning signs of these harmful ideologies will be lost to the past and become more challenging to recognize in the future.

To better understand our present and our future, we must look back on our past to recognize and study the mistakes of our forefathers so that we don’t repeat them. 


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