Foundations Courses

Welcome to Harvard University. All History courses—both lectures and seminars—are open to first-year students; none have prerequisites. This page lists a subset of the Fall courses. These “101” courses are those that the History Department considers particularly appropriate for first-year students. All of them will give you the tools you need for other History courses, introduce you to basic historical research, and improve your writing ability. You can see the full list (already filtered) of 101 courses in the my.harvard course catalog  and in map view (all the course names are clickable links). You can also see a pre-filtered list of all Fall History Courses open to undergraduates (101s, other lectures, and seminars) in my.harvard course catalog and on a day/time grid (all the course names are clickable links). See the bottom of the page for suggested career clusters of History courses and contacts for any questions.

101 Courses

African Diaspora 101

Hist 1412: African Diaspora in the Americas
Vincent Brown
This course’s listing in the my.harvard course catalog is located here: https://bit.ly/3QgOLRF

Big Question: How can we best understand the diverse cultural practices of the African diaspora in the Americas?

Africans and their descendants in the Americas have drawn upon their experiences to create enduring cultural forms that seem simultaneously to be thoroughly American and distinctly African. How can we best understand these diverse cultural practices? From where did they derive? How are they related to each other? The course explores how transnational affinities have been articulated, debated, and put to use from the Transatlantic slave trade to the present.

Borders 101

GenEd 1140: Borders
Mary Lewis

This course’s listing in the my.harvard course catalog is located here: https://bit.ly/3p96PBi

Big Question: How have borders been formed historically, and what are the ethics of border construction, defense, expansion, and transgression?

As a society, we pay particular attention to borders when violent events remind us of their existence and function: children separated from their asylum-seeking parents; tear-gas being used to deter entry; members of the mounted border patrol whipping migrants with their reins. But seldom do we stop to think about what a border is, or when and why some borders are defended more aggressively than others. This course looks at the modern history of borders, broadly construed, from clashing “frontiers,” to national boundaries between sovereign countries, to supranational agreements such as the European Union. It considers how borders are erected and dissolved, both legally and materially. And it queries the legal, diplomatic, social, and ethical considerations that ensue from drawing a line between one side and another, and defending that line. We will also consider how actors within societies create internal (often racialized) boundary lines such as “gated communities” or “redlined zones,” that are sometimes extra-legal or even illegal, but have profound effects on the everyday lives of individuals and groups.

British Empire 101

Hist 1024: The British Empire
Maya Jasanoff
This course’s listing in the my.harvard course catalog is located here: https://bit.ly/3AceDsw

Big Question: How did a small island nation come to rule over a quarter of the world?

Less than a century ago the British Empire ruled a quarter of the world. This course surveys the empire’s extraordinary rise and fall from the American Revolution to World War II. The course presents a narrative of key events and considers the empire’s political and cultural legacies. This is not just a lecture: the class includes multimedia presentations, in-class discussions, debates, and engaging readings.

Deep History 101

GenEd 1044: Deep History
Daniel Smail/Matthew Liebmann
This course’s listing in the my.harvard course catalog is located here: https://bit.ly/39CkRTZ

Big Question: How can we understand the entirety of the human past, from the long ago to the present day?

When does history begin? To judge by the typical history textbook, the answer is straightforward: six thousand years ago. So what about the tens of thousands of years of human existence described by archaeology and related disciplines? Is that history too? This introduction to human history offers a framework for joining the entirety of the human past, from the long ago to the present day, in a single narrative that stretches across many disciplines. We will explore a series of interrelated themes each of which invites questions that travel across time and space. The material presented through lectures, discussions, and activities will not only guide students through a collaborative exploration of human experience, but will also encourage them to contemplate how such experiences mirror and contrast with their own. To help anchor ourselves in the timeline of past and present, we will engage with the world-class collection of artifacts in Harvard’s museums, giving students a unique, hands-on opportunity to experience human history through material remains.

End of Communism 101

Hist 1281: The End of Communism
Terry Martin
This course’s listing in the my.harvard course catalog is located here: https://bit.ly/3QDlC37

Big Question: Why did communism collapse in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in 1989 & 1991?

This course examines how and why communism collapsed in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Although the events of 1989/1991 are usually considered sudden and shocking, we’ll question this assumption within the political, economic, social, and cultural contexts of the surrounding decades (1970-2000). As we do so, we’ll consider both international and domestic factors, including the Cold War and the arms race; ideology and dissent; consumption and culture; oil, economics and the environment; nationalism and civil war; gender and health. Fundamentally, in this class we’ll debate how structural conditions and contingency affect the course of history.

Japan in the World 101

Hist 1023: Japan in Asia and the World
Andrew Gordon & David Howell
This course’s listing in the my.harvard course catalog is located here: https://bit.ly/3qkcNhk

Big Question: How did Japan transform into a regional empire and later a global cultural powerhouse over five centuries?

Japan is a collection of islands, but its past and present unfolds through continuous interaction with wider worlds. This course places Japan in contexts of Asian and global history. It begins with the people, institutions, and ideas of premodern Japan, from the emergence of a court-centered state 1500 years ago to a warrior-dominated society centuries later. We then examine the tumultuous process of change from the 19th century through the present and explore how people in Japan have dealt with the dilemmas of modernity that challenge us all.

Middle East 101

Hist 1800: A Critical Introduction to the Study of the Middle East
Cemal Kafadar

This course’s listing in the my.harvard course catalog is located here: https://bit.ly/3zOqU4M

Big Question: Which histories does the term “Middle East” encompass?

This course introduces students to the medieval and modern history of the Middle East while exploring diverse theoretical frameworks, methodological approaches, and critical debates in the field of Middle East studies. Beginning with the idea of “the Middle East” itself, various aspects of the field will be scrutinized from the perspective of different disciplines and methodologies. Readings and discussions will also focus on key categories of analysis such as orientalism, modernity, capitalism, gender, (post)colonialism, nationalism, anthropocene.

Modern China 101

Hist 1602: Modern China: 1894–Present
Arunabh Ghosh

This course’s listing in the my.harvard course catalog is located here: https://bit.ly/3p4KZix

Big Question: How has China redefined itself over the past one hundred eventful years?

This lecture course will introduce you to the history of post-imperial China (1912- ). Beginning with the decline of the Qing and the dramatic collapse of China’s imperial system in 1911, the course examines how China has sought to redefine itself anew over the past one-hundred years. The revolutionary years of 1911, 1949, and 1978 will serve as our three fulcra, as we investigate how China has tussled with a variety of ‘isms’ (such as republicanism, militarism, nationalism, socialism, and state capitalism) in its pursuit of an appropriate system of governance and social organization. In so doing, we shall also explore the social, economic, cultural, and scientific changes wrought by these varied attempts at state-building.

Modern South Asia 101

Hist 1036: Modern South Asia
Sugata Bose
This course’s listing in the my.harvard course catalog is located here: https://bit.ly/3Aa3vMv

Big Question: How do we understand the global role of modern South Asia?

This course provides the historical depth in which to understand modern and contemporary South Asia in broad Indian Ocean and global contexts. It explores the history, culture, and political economy of the subcontinent, which provides a fascinating laboratory to study such themes as colonialism, nationalism, partition, the modern state, democracy development, religious identities, and relations between Asia and the West.

Postwar U.S. 101

History 1223: The American Century? A History of the United States since World War II
Aaron Bekemeyer
This course’s listing in the my.harvard course catalog is located here: https://bit.ly/3BUT1lz

Big Question: How can we understand the tumultuous past 75 years of American history as a coherent whole?

The decades after the end of World War II marked an exceptional era in American history, the
dawn of the so-called “American Century.” In this course, we will explore the history of the United States since it became the world’s preeminent economic and military power at the end of World War II. Since 1945, the country moved from a “Golden Age” of capitalism to the neoliberal era of inequality and erratic growth; from immigration restriction to attracting people from across the world; from the hegemony of liberalism to the ascendance of conservatism; and from the Cold War to the War on Terror.

Sub-Saharan Africa 101

Hist 1700: The History of Sub-Saharan Africa to 1860
Emmanuel Akyeampong
This course’s listing in the my.harvard course catalog is located here: https://bit.ly/3PacDFf

Big Question: What do we learn from constructing a history of Sub-Saharan Africa before 1860?

This course provides you with an introduction to sub-Saharan Africa until 1860, with attention to the range of methodologies used in writing early African history, including oral history, archaeology, and anthropology. We will examine crucial themes such as the impact of climate change on migration and settlement; trade and commerce; state formation; slavery; and the impact of Islam and Christianity on the continent. By the end of the course, you’ll have gained a methodological and historiographical framework in which to understand specific historical processes and events.

U.S. & World Order 101

Hist 1465: The United States and World Order since 1900
Erez Manela
This course’s listing in the my.harvard course catalog is located here: https://bit.ly/3pf3IHX

Big Question: How does the United States shape global order and what are the limits on its power?

Since the turn of the twentieth century, when the United States became a major economic and military power, Americans have tried to mold and manage international order. In this course, we will explore and assess these efforts through the rise of US overseas expansion, two world wars, the Cold War, and into the twenty-first century.



Click the image below to be redirected to a PDF file, or click the following link: https://bit.ly/3JTHkgM
All of the course names within the PDF are clickable links.

Fall 2022 101 Course Map (revision 2)



Click the image below to be redirected to a PDF file, or click the following link: https://bit.ly/3PqytUZ
All of the course names within the PDF are clickable links.

Fall 2022 101 Course Grid (revision 2)

Professional Clusters of History Department Courses

Gathering data from lots of sources. Synthesizing it quickly. Making an argument about it.  Communicating it in an effective way. These are the basic tasks of historians. They’re also what lawyers, businesspeople, consultants, non-profit directors, journalists, public policy leaders, government officials, and people in many other professions do. A small minority (less than 10%) of History concentrators go on to become professional historians. Most use the skills they learned in Robinson Hall—to gather evidence and make an argument about it narrative form—in other professions. Historical research skills prepare you for the job you think you want now as a first-year student, as well as the three or four jobs you will actually have during your career. We’ve drafted six clusters of History courses below. The courses listed are not a definitive list for that cluster, but rather some of the 2020-2021 History courses that would prepare you in some way for a career in that area.

Law

Historians use fragmentary data from the past to make arguments in a format anyone can understand. The ability to parse a variety of sources—contracts, depositions, photographs, business accounts—and integrate them with a specialized body of secondary sources (case law) is important for lawyers. Think about a cluster of History courses to prepare you for a career in law.

Fall:
GENED 1002: The Democracy Project 
FS 43C: Human Rights and the Global South
HIST 12F: Slavery in the Global Middle Ages
HIST 12Y: Capitalism, Crime, and Punishment in American History
HIST 1390: Democracy: The Long View and the Bumpy History
HIST 1405: American Legal History, 1776–1865
HIST 1776: The American Revolution

Spring:
GENED 1017: Americans as Occupiers and Nation-Builders
GENED 1140: Borders
HIST 1217: U.S. Foreign Policy in a Global Age
HIST 1921: The History of Law in Europe 

plus
PHIL 11: Philosophy of Law
GOV 94OF: Law and Politics in Multicultural Democracies

Business & Consulting

Historians use fragmentary data from the past to make arguments in a format anyone can understand. The ability to find a variety of sources—both quantitative data like sales numbers but also focus groups, market reports, and other incomplete information—is important in business. Think about a cluster of History courses to prepare you for a career in business.

Fall:
GENED 1136: Power and Civilization: China
FS40J: Advice to Young Leaders
HIST 12W: The History of Energy
HIST 13T: Women in Economic Life
HIST 1056: The New Science of the Human Past: Case Studies at the Cutting Edge
HIST 1125: Reasoning from the Past: Applied History and Decision Making

Spring:
GENED 1068: The United States and China
GENED 1159: American Capitalism
HIST 12O: The Great Divergence and Convergence: Disparity in the Global Economy, 1500– Present
HIST 1067: An Introduction to the History of Economics

plus
ECON 10A/B: Principles of Economics
STATS 104: Introduction to Quantitative Methods for Economics
ENG-SCI 238: Introduction to Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Government & International Relations

Historians use fragmentary data from the past to make arguments in a format anyone can understand.The ability to find a variety of sources—both quantitative data like census numbers and scientific data and also social science research, and other incomplete information—is important in government. Think about a cluster of History courses to prepare you for a career in the public sector or public policy.

Fall:
GENED 1002: The Democracy Project
GENED 1136: Power and Civilization: China
FRSEMR 40J: Advice to Young Leaders
FRSEMR 43C: Human Rights and the Global South
HIST 12W: The History of Energy
HIST 14Y: Between East Asia and the Americas: Migration, Diaspora, Empire
HIST 1026: The Rise and Fall of Postwar Japan
HIST 1036: Modern South Asia
HIST 1125: Reasoning from the Past: Applied History and Decision Making
HIST 1220: The Global Cold War
HIST 1390: Democracy: The Long View and the Bumpy History
HIST 1405: American legal History, 1776–1865
HIST 1511: Latin America and the United States

Spring:
GENED 1017: Americans as Occupiers and Nation-Builders
GENED 1068: The United States and China
GENED 1140: Borders
HIST 12Q: U.S. Latinx History
HIST 12X: The AIDS Epidemic
HIST 12Z: The History of American Conservatism from William F. Buckley, Jr., to Donald Trump
HIST 13C: St. Louis from Lewis and Clark to Michael Brown
HIST 13E: The History of Modern Mexico
HIST 14X: Conquering Pandemics: Medicine and the State in the Effort to Control Disease
HIST 15A: The Challenge of Making America Modern
HIST 89A: British Colonial Violence in the 20th Century
HIST 97M: What is International History?
HIST 1009: The Making of the Modern Middle East
HIST 1217: U.S. Foreign Policy in a Global Age
HIST 1221: Postwar Germanies
HIST 1223: The American Century?: A History of the United States since World War II

plus
ECON 10A/B: Principles of Economics
MIT 15.703: Leading with Impact

Journalism & Writing

Historians use fragmentary data from the past to make arguments in a format anyone can understand. The ability to find a variety of sources—interviews, government documents, and court records but also quantitative data like the census and non-profit reports—is important in journalism as well. Think about a cluster of History courses to prepare you for a career in journalism or writing.

Fall:
GENED 1034: Texts in Transition
HIST 1056: The New Science of the Human Past: Case Studies at the Cutting Edge
HIST 1125: Reasoning from the Past: Applied History and Decision Making
HIST 1993: Introdiuction to Digital History

Spring:
HIST 12P: The History of Emotions
HIST 12S: Biography and Autobiography in Renaissance italy
HIST 12U: Quad Lab: Histories of Technology, Society, and Place at Harvard
HIST 1947: The Imperial Map: Geographic Information in the Age of Empire

plus
ENGL CIJR Introduction to Journalism
DPI 675 Digital Platforms, Journalism, and Information

Environment & Environmental Policy

Historians use fragmentary data from the past to make arguments in a format anyone can understand. The ability to find a variety of sources—both quantitative data like pollution and reforestation numbers but also non-profit reports and other incomplete information—is important in environmental policy. Think about a cluster of History courses to prepare you for a career in an environment-related field.

Fall:
GENED 1044: Deep History
GENED 1147: American Food: A Global History
HIST 12W: The History of Energy
HIST 1056: The New Science of the Human Past: Case Studies at the Cutting Edge

Spring:
HIST 1947: The Imperial Map: Geographic Information in the Age of Empire
HIST 1973: Re-Wilding Harvard

plus
ESPP 78 Environmental Politics
ESPP 77 Technology, Environment, and Society

Activism, Human Rights, & Service

Historians use fragmentary data from the past to make arguments in a format anyone can understand. The ability to find a variety of sources—both quantitative data like sales numbers but also focus groups, market reports, and other incomplete information—is important in in activism and non-profit leadership. Think about a cluster of History courses to prepare you to lead the world (or your community) to a better place.

Fall:
GENED 1002: The Democracy Project
FS 40J: Advice to Young Leaders
FS 43C: Human Rights and the Global South
HIST 14Y: Between East Asia and the Americas: Migration, Diaspora, Empire
HIST 60O: American Indian History in Four Acts
HIST 1017: Jews in the Modern World
HIST 1125: Reasoning from the Past: Applied History and Decision Making
HIST 1206: Empire, Nation, and Immigration in france since 1870
HIST 1222: The Great Migration: The Exodus that Transformed Black America and the United States
HIST 1390: Democracy: The Long View and the Bumpy History
HIST 1412: The African Diaspora in the Americas
HIST 1511: Colonial Latin America
HIST 1908: Racial Capitalism and the Black Radical Tradition

Spring:
GENED 1017: Americans as Occupiers and Nation-Builders
GENED 1140: Borders
GENED 1159: American Capitalism
HIST 12Q: U.S. Latinx History
HIST 12X: The AIDS Epidemic
HIST 13C: St. Louis from Lewis and Clark to Michael Brown
HIST 13E: The History of Modern Mexico
HIST 14Z: Modern Iran: From Empires and Revolutions to the Everyday
HIST 15A: The Challenge of Making America Modern
HIST 1009: The Making of the Modern Middle East
HIST 1067: An Introduction tot he History of Economics
HIST 1217: U.S. Foreign Policy in a Global Age
HIST 1223: The American Century?: A History of the United States since World War II

plus
ECON 980DD Globalization and Inequality
MIT 15.703  Leading with Impact

Director

Ian J. Miller

Ian J. Miller

Professor of History
Director, Undergraduate Studies
Faculty Dean of Cabot House

Academic Office Hours | Thursdays, 1:00 - 3:00pm 
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Cabot Office Hours | Fridays 1:00-2:20pm
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Assistant Directors

Carla heelan

Carla Heelan

Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies
Lecturer on History