History (BA)

Program Description

What stories will humanity tell about itself in the 21st century? The 20th-century story of the “Rise of the West” proves increasingly inadequate in our present day, and appears now to capture only a short-term realignment in the global distribution of power. Students who study History at NYU Abu Dhabi will learn about patterns of human experience - continuity and change - that always already exceeded such singular accounts of what we, in the singular and the plural, have become. History at NYU Abu Dhabi, moreover, engages students in the next and even more intellectually daunting task of developing an alternative account - indeed alternative accounts - of humanity’s collective and divided experience, in order to help us make sense of the challenges that the world, and the planet, face today. No decisions about the present or the future make sense without a clear understanding of the past.

History at NYU Abu Dhabi is a global enterprise, with a faculty carefully selected for its range of expertise in all major world areas: Asia, Africa, North and South America, Australia, Oceania, and Europe. Nothing excites our faculty more than sitting in the classroom to discuss world history with students from over 140 different countries. No classrooms are better suited for generating stories that resonate meaningfully across the world.

The program, moreover, offers a unique approach to thinking about the space of history, organizing its curriculum through the four long-term zones of human interaction and imagination”—the Asia-Pacific World, the Atlantic World, the Indian Ocean World, and the Mediterranean, Black, and Caspian Sea World. It does not offer a ready-made alternative to prior frameworks of analysis, but aims to challenge ourselves and our students to inquire into the various levels of scale at which people make history, and to offer them a chance to generate categories of historical analysis that help us discover and reveal historical events and forms of human experience that remain obscured by more conventional units of analysis like the nation-state.

Students can enter the major from a range of different globally-situated vantage points—such as “Africa in the World”; “Russia in the World”; “China in the World”; or “Alexander and the East”; progress toward more strictly globally thematic classes—including “Urbanism and Modernity”; “The Global Sixties”; and “Museums and Empire”—and then advance toward courses that offer a sustained engagement with more regionally focused areas of ongoing scholarly innovation—for example, “Muslim Societies in African History”; “Nationalism in the Middle East”; “The United States in a Transnational and Global Perspective”; or “Arts and Politics in Latin America”.

Two required courses, “Globalization and History” and “Writing History,” create a shared vocabulary among our students of theoretical innovation and a foundation for the creative practice of producing original historical research for the History Capstone during the senior year. History majors leave NYU Abu Dhabi with a foundation of knowledge that is genuinely globally comparative and regionally informed. Having acquired historical methods of research and thinking, majors graduate well prepared for the pursuit of many professions where thinking globally matters, including policymaking, law, public health, teaching, politics, diplomacy, and business, or advanced study and teaching in history.


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