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News from the History Program

News from the History Program

women's history month

In 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued a proclamation declaring the week of March 8th as National Women's History Week. It was the precursor to Women's History Month, which was created in 1987.

Students join Women's March on Philadelphia

A small group of CHC students and faculty joined the Women’s March on Philadelphia on January 21. Sponsored by the History Club and the Women’s Studies minor the students were led by Lorraine Coons, Ph.D., professor of history and chair of the History and Political Science Department. 

David Contosta votes in a mock primary election

Election Day, November 8th, is only two weeks away and across the Chestnut Hill College campus, faculty in the History and Political Science Department have been helping to prepare and educate students, faculty and staff before the big day.

Sharon Katz

The Institute for Forgiveness and Reconciliation (IFR), the history club and history honor society, Phi Alpha Theta, and the Black Student Union (BSU) set out to engage and educate the College community on issues facing the African-American population today and in the past in honor of Black History Month.

Lawrence Little

In addition to several club sponsored events including open dialogues on race and relations, Chestnut Hill College’s History Club, the Black Student Union, and Phi Alpha Theta will commemorate Black History month by welcoming Lawrence Little, Ph.D., from Villanova University on Thursday, February 18, at 7 p.m. in the East Parlor.

A Class-wide Trip to the Harvard Hellenic Center in Greece
History class in Greece

Be a traveler, not a tourist. That was the mantra of the History Department’s trip  to Greece in March, which saw 10 students and two instructors immerse themselves in all aspects of the country’s history and culture. From navigating ancient ruins to dressing up in costumes for Carnival to gazing at the Parthenon, the group traveled voraciously. “Traveling and learning history first-hand is what defines a history major,” said Chris Dunn ’13. “The trip accomplished that and gave me an in-depth understanding of such an esteemed culture.” 

Highlights abound. For Dunn, they include reaching the top of a Venetian fortress and climbing the scaffolding of the Daphni Monastery to see the Christ Pantocrator up close. Elijah Goloub ’11 mentions the fortress and the sacred Acropolis —“These places have so much history attached that visiting them was like reading an epic.” 

Others relished weaving between new and old Greece. One minute, they’d be walking down an alley full of street art and clothing-draped balconies. The next, they’d encounter the ancient buildings that powered Athens.  

“That twists perspectives from ancient historical contexts to adaptations for modern Greece,” said Jessica Lee ’11. Indeed, co-instructors Alexander Varias, Ph.D., and Lorraine Coons, Ph.D., more than achieved their goal of offering “an authentic portrait of Greece.” The trip built upon what the students learned in the course Varias taught on Greece through the ages, detailing its hallowed past and turbulent present. Students encountered a country grappling with modernity. “This opened my eyes to another world,” said Melissa Graveline ’11. “I see Greece as a beautiful example of east meets west.” 

Amplifying the students’ experience was the rare opportunity to study at the Harvard University Center for Hellenic Studies.  

Varias helped to arrange a grant allowing students access to the center and its resources. They spent three or four hours there daily, listening to lectures from Greek scholars and interacting with local authorities and students.

Access to Harvard’s vaunted library system was, however, of particular help to the students as they worked on their comprehensive research papers. “I’ve never had such infinite resources at my fingertips,” Dunn said. “And to top it off, their staff members were incredible, assisting us with whatever we encountered.” 

“It was an incredible opportunity,” Goloub added upon his return to the College. “I’m so happy I made the most of my research.”

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CHC Students Witness History as Malala Yousafzai Receives Liberty Medal
Malala Speaking

Shortly after becoming the youngest person in history to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, 17-year-old Malala Yousafzai received the 2014 Liberty Medal at a ceremony in Philadelphia's National Constitution Center for her "continued demonstration of courage and resilience in the face of adversity and for serving as a powerful voice for those who have been denied their basic human rights and liberties."

For a lucky handful of CHC students, that October evening was educational and inspirational, as well as a chance to see history made – Yousafzai is also the youngest recipient of the Liberty Medal. Led by Lorraine Coons, Ph.D., professor of history and chair of the History and Political Science Department, the group had choice seats, only a few rows from the stage.
 
"When I heard that Malala was going to be in Philadelphia to receive the Liberty Award, I knew this would be an excellent learning experience for students in the Women in Global Society seminar that I was teaching this fall," Coons says. "Malala is a voice for the 66 million young girls around the world who are being deprived of their basic human right to an education. I dedicated the seminar to her and my students read her book. I was thrilled to get an email from the Constitution Center saying that we could attend the ceremony and be a part of history."

Senior Colin Ceasar Boyle wants to teach high school history and felt connected to Yousafzai's dedication to fighting for education for everyone around the world, and to her understanding of the impact education has on one's life. "Her call for people to stand up to make a difference is inspirational," says Boyle. "She's proof that one person can make an impact. I find her story remarkably brave."
 
The students in the seminar also held a fundraiser to support the work of The Malala Fund. "In addition to the baked goods for sale, the students' goal was to raise awareness on campus about Malala and her struggle for the empowerment of girls worldwide," said Coons. "The seminar contribution of $200 will help the Malala Fund in subsidizing projects like the rebuilding of schools in Gaza and education programs for Syrian refugee children in Northern Jordan whose access to education has been denied them in the wake of the civil war that has ravaged their country."
 
Such a service-learning project has been a wonderful complement to seminar discussions this semester about the need for activism to bring a positive change in the lives of millions of disenfranchised women, she adds. As Malala tells us: "One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world."

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