Module 3: History of Life

Why it matters: history of life, why discuss the history of life on earth.

Human beings are just one of countless examples of life on Earth. The sheer amount of diversity can seem overwhelming. However, over the years, scientists have developed tools and methods to organize all known living organisms. With the phylogenetic tree and the taxonomic classification system, scientists have grouped and organized organisms by domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species.

The term kingdom is likely familiar to you, and you may even know the genus and species names of some organisms, as these names are used to create scientific names such as Canis lupus familiaris  (dogs) and Felis catus  (cats). But how does this type of organization matter in everyday life?

Evolutionary biologists could list many reasons why understanding phylogeny is important to everyday life in human society. For botanists, phylogeny acts as a guide to discovering new plants that can be used to benefit people. Think of all the ways humans use plants—food, medicine, and clothing are a few examples. If a plant contains a compound that is effective in treating disease, scientists might want to examine all of the relatives of that plant for other useful drugs.

Learning Outcomes

  • Explain the theory of evolution
  • Define species and identify how species form
  • Discuss the ways populations evolve
  • Read and analyze a phylogenetic tree that documents evolutionary relationships


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  • Why It Matters: History of Life. Authored by : Shelli Carter and Lumen Learning. Provided by : Lumen Learning. License : CC BY: Attribution
  • Biology 2e. Provided by : OpenStax. Located at :[email protected] . License : CC BY: Attribution . License Terms : Access for free at

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Why should i Study History of Life for Building a Better Future

This essay advocates for the importance of studying the history of life as a tool for shaping a better future. It argues that understanding the evolution of life on Earth, the rise and fall of civilizations, and the lessons from historical events are crucial in making informed decisions for the future. The overview covers how historical knowledge fosters critical thinking, helps avoid past mistakes, and inspires innovation. It also discusses the role of historical study in fostering a deeper appreciation for human diversity and resilience, and its potential to guide ethical and sustainable choices in an ever-changing world. More free essay examples are accessible at PapersOwl about Education System.

How it works

  • 1 Introduction
  • 2.1 History as the Fuel for Progress: Understanding the Significance of Learning History
  • 2.2 Weaving the Future: The Role of History in Shaping Society
  • 3.1 References


To engage in activism or advocate for social change without learning and analyzing history is to attempt to grow a tree without planting a single seed. If humans are machines, then history is our fuel. It propels us forward and makes that distant horizon of progress feel just a little bit closer. History isn’t just a list of dates and names. History is destruction and creation, betrayal and unity, tyranny, and rebellion. Our own country wouldn’t be here today if the Founding Fathers had not had an expansive knowledge of history to work from.

They crafted the idea for a republic based on representational democracy from the democratic system of government established in Ancient Greece. 

History as the Fuel for Progress: Understanding the Significance of Learning History

Several writers have criticized the approach to history in education and, to an extent, society as a whole. Loewen writes about how education misappropriates various figures from history and contorts their image into simple parables for our own consumption, the way a clown twists balloons into the shapes of animals. Through the filter of a kyriarchal education system, Helen Keller’s life of socialist activism and writing on the intersection of ableism with race and class is cut down to her childhood when she overcame deaf-blindness and learned to communicate with other people. Woodrow Wilson’s legislation supporting racial segregation in American society and his numerous military interventions in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Mexico, and Nicaragua is dusted under the rug so that his role in ending World War I and creating the League of Nations can be praised by students. An entire generation is raised with a story of a strong-willed activist boiled down to a digestible inspirational story, and the story of an intolerant leader boiled down to an “epic” war story (Loewen, 1995, p. 12-20).

Weaving the Future: The Role of History in Shaping Society

All of this critique about history leaves us with a lot to ponder. The key is not only about “what should we learn from history?” but “how do we learn from history?”. Since history has been shown to intersect with education in many regards, it is helpful to look to Paulo Freire’s advice in “Pedagogy of the Oppressed.” He speaks of how instead of teachers presenting lessons as “deposit-making” in which facts and dates are simply poured into students’ heads for memorization, they should present lessons based on “problem-prosing” to engage the students more (Freire, 1968, p. 79). Freire explains that “in problem-posing education, people develop their power to perceive critically the way they exist in the world with which and in which they find themselves; they come to see the world not as a static reality, but as a reality in process, in transformation” (Freire, 1968, p. 83). This method would display excellent results when applied to history. Instead of just learning a summary of the narratives that led us to our current state, students must learn how to comprehend and furthermore critique these narratives. They should ask, “Where did this rebellion go wrong?”, “what systems bred this intolerance?”, “How did this economic system collapse on itself?”. To nurture minds in this way would mean that these students would go on to become people who can develop individual as well as collective plans for how to build their future society.

The drawing that I made for this assignment depicts the text of a history book quite literally leaping off the page and turning it into a thread. This thread is then used by a sewing machine to weave a fabric labeled “FUTURE,” thus metaphorically weaving the future of society. The theme behind the photo is about how every generation needs a healthy and deep comprehension of history in order to build a better future, as well as develop a plan for how to make that future a reality. Since words and ideas are technically not physical things, people tend not to think that they can have as much of an impact on the world as they really do. That’s why I wanted to show it as a physical material, such as fabric and thread as well. It was meant to show how the immaterial world of thought and ideology can make the leap to the material world of action and creation. I decided not to add color to the picture and keep it in black, white, and grey to mimic the monochromatic photos that we view so much of history in when we watch documentaries or read textbooks.

So let’s set forth with a new mindset on history. Let’s teach people that the narratives that built our current world weren’t only in black and white but also in varying shades of grey. New powers can be created… but sometimes at the cost of great destruction. People or peoples can unite with others… but sometimes only to betray a common enemy. The oppressed can lead a successful rebellion… but sometimes they themselves become the oppressors and the tyrants. To show these stories in a simple “black and white” would mean the mistakes and errors, along with the radical and revolutionary acts of important figures, would be trapped in the shadows or lost in the glare. To achieve this, we must engage students with the never-ending story of history, for they themselves are participating in it every moment of their lives. It is they who can illuminate those shadows and balance the glare. They are the ones who can reveal the radical beliefs of heroes we thought we knew everything about and the villainous acts of leaders we thought were angels. Let people know all the details of all the trials in the ongoing social experiment we call human civilization.

  • Loewen, J. W. (1995). Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong. The New Press.


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Why Is History Important And How Can It Benefit Your Future?

Updated: February 28, 2024

Published: July 1, 2020


History is a topic that many find boring to study or a waste of time. But there is more to studying history than meets the eye. Let’s answer the age-old question: “Why is history important?”

What Is History?

History is the knowledge of and study of the past. It is the story of the past and a form of collective memory. History is the story of who we are, where we come from, and can potentially reveal where we are headed.

Why Study History: The Importance

History is important to study because it is essential for all of us in understanding ourselves and the world around us. There is a history of every field and topic, from medicine, to music, to art. To know and understand history is absolutely necessary, even though the results of historical study are not as visible, and less immediate.

Allows You To Comprehend More

1. our world.

History gives us a very clear picture of how the various aspects of society — such as technology, governmental systems, and even society as a whole — worked in the past so we understand how it came to work the way it is now.

2. Society And Other People

Studying history allows us to observe and understand how people and societies behaved. For example, we are able to evaluate war, even when a nation is at peace, by looking back at previous events. History provides us with the data that is used to create laws, or theories about various aspects of society.

3. Identity

History can help provide us with a sense of identity. This is actually one of the main reasons that history is still taught in schools around the world. Historians have been able to learn about how countries, families, and groups were formed, and how they evolved and developed over time. When an individual takes it upon themselves to dive deep into their own family’s history, they can understand how their family interacted with larger historical change. Did family serve in major wars? Were they present for significant events?

4. Present-Day Issues

History helps us to understand present-day issues by asking deeper questions as to why things are the way they are. Why did wars in Europe in the 20th century matter to countries around the world? How did Hitler gain and maintain power for as long as he had? How has this had an effect on shaping our world and our global political system today?

5. The Process Of Change Over Time

If we want to truly understand why something happened — in any area or field, such as one political party winning the last election vs the other, or a major change in the number of smokers — you need to look for factors that took place earlier. Only through the study of history can people really see and grasp the reasons behind these changes, and only through history can we understand what elements of an institution or a society continue regardless of continual change.

Photo by Yusuf Dündar on Unsplash

You learn a clear lesson, 1. political intelligence.

History can help us become better informed citizens. It shows us who we are as a collective group, and being informed of this is a key element in maintaining a democratic society. This knowledge helps people take an active role in the political forum through educated debates and by refining people’s core beliefs. Through knowledge of history, citizens can even change their old belief systems.

2. History Teaches Morals And Values

By looking at specific stories of individuals and situations, you can test your own morals and values. You can compare it to some real and difficult situations individuals have had to face in trying times. Looking to people who have faced and overcome adversity can be inspiring. You can study the great people of history who successfully worked through moral dilemmas, and also ordinary people who teach us lessons in courage, persistence and protest.

3. Builds Better Citizenship

The study of history is a non-negotiable aspect of better citizenship. This is one of the main reasons why it is taught as a part of school curricular. People that push for citizenship history (relationship between a citizen and the state) just want to promote a strong national identity and even national loyalty through the teaching of lessons of individual and collective success.

4. Learn From The Past And Notice Clear Warning Signs

We learn from past atrocities against groups of people; genocides, wars, and attacks. Through this collective suffering, we have learned to pay attention to the warning signs leading up to such atrocities. Society has been able to take these warning signs and fight against them when they see them in the present day. Knowing what events led up to these various wars helps us better influence our future.

5. Gaining A Career Through History

The skills that are acquired through learning about history, such as critical thinking, research, assessing information, etc, are all useful skills that are sought by employers. Many employers see these skills as being an asset in their employees and will hire those with history degrees in various roles and industries.

6. Personal Growth And Appreciation

Understanding past events and how they impact the world today can bring about empathy and understanding for groups of people whose history may be different from the mainstream. You will also understand the suffering, joy, and chaos that were necessary for the present day to happen and appreciate all that you are able to benefit from past efforts today.

Photo by Giammarco Boscaro on Unsplash

Develop and refine your skills through studying history, 1. reading and writing.

You can refine your reading skills by reading texts from a wide array of time periods. Language has changed and evolved over time and so has the way people write and express themselves. You can also refine your writing skills through learning to not just repeat what someone else said, but to analyze information from multiple sources and come up with your own conclusions. It’s two birds with one stone — better writing and critical thinking!

2. Craft Your Own Opinions

There are so many sources of information out in the world. Finding a decisive truth for many topics just doesn’t exist. What was a victory for one group was a great loss for another — you get to create your own opinions of these events.

3. Decision-Making

History gives us the opportunity to learn from others’ past mistakes. It helps us understand the many reasons why people may behave the way they do. As a result, it helps us become more impartial as decision-makers.

4. How To Do Research

In the study of history you will need to conduct research . This gives you the opportunity to look at two kinds of sources — primary (written at the time) and secondary sources (written about a time period, after the fact). This practice can teach you how to decipher between reliable and unreliable sources.

5. Quantitative Analysis

There are numbers and data to be learned from history. In terms of patterns: patterns in population, desertions during times of war, and even in environmental factors. These patterns that are found help clarify why things happened as they did.

6. Qualitative Analysis

It’s incredibly important to learn to question the quality of the information and “history” you are learning. Keep these two questions in mind as you read through information: How do I know what I’m reading are facts and accurate information? Could they be the writer’s opinions?

Photo by Matteo Maretto on Unsplash

We are all living histories.

All people and cultures are living histories. The languages we speak are inherited from the past. Our cultures, traditions, and religions are all inherited from the past. We even inherit our genetic makeup from those that lived before us. Knowing these connections give you a basic understanding of the condition of being human.

History Is Fun

Learning about history can be a great deal of fun. We have the throngs of movies about our past to prove it. History is full of some of the most interesting and fascinating stories ever told, including pirates, treasure, mysteries, and adventures. On a regular basis new stories from the past keep emerging to the mainstream. Better yet, there is a history of every topic and field. Whatever you find fascinating there is a history to go along with it. Dive a bit deeper into any topic’s history and you will be surprised by what you might find in the process.

The subject of history can help you develop your skills and transform you to be a better version of yourself as a citizen, a student, and person overall.

If you are looking to develop more of yourself and skills for your future career, check out the degree programs that are offered by University of the People — a tuition-free, 100% online, U.S. accredited university.

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Why should you study history?

To study history is to study change: historians are experts in examining and interpreting human identities and transformations of societies and civilizations over time. They use a range of methods and analytical tools to answer questions about the past and to reconstruct the diversity of past human experience: how profoundly people have differed in their ideas, institutions, and cultural practices; how widely their experiences have varied by time and place, and the ways they have struggled while inhabiting a shared world. Historians use a wide range of sources to weave individual lives and collective actions into narratives that bring critical perspectives on both our past and our present. Studying history helps us understand and grapple with complex questions and dilemmas by examining how the past has shaped (and continues to shape) global, national, and local relationships between societies and people.

The Past Teaches Us About the Present

Because history gives us the tools to analyze and explain problems in the past, it positions us to see patterns that might otherwise be invisible in the present – thus providing a crucial perspective for understanding (and solving!) current and future problems. For example, a course on the history of public health might emphasize how environmental pollution disproportionately affects less affluent communities – a major factor in the Flint water crisis. Understanding immigration patterns may provide crucial background for addressing ongoing racial or cultural tensions. In many ways, history interprets the events and causes that contributed to our current world.

History Builds Empathy Through Studying the Lives and Struggles of Others

Studying the diversity of human experience helps us appreciate cultures, ideas, and traditions that are not our own – and to recognize them as meaningful products of specific times and places. History helps us realize how different our lived experience is from that of our ancestors, yet how similar we are in our goals and values.

History Can Be Intensely Personal

In learning about the past, we often discover how our own lives fit into the human experience. In October 2015, a UW alumnus named Michael Stern contacted Professor Amos Bitzan for help translating letters from his grandmother, Sara Spira, to his parents.  Bitzan was able to integrate some of the letters into his class on the Holocaust to bring to life for his students the day-to-day realities of being Jewish in Nazi-occupied Poland. As Bitzan explained, “I realized that Sara Spira’s postcards could be a way for my students to integrate two facets of the study of the Holocaust: an analysis of victims and perpetrators.” And if you have ever seen an episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?”, you’ve seen the ways in which historical research can tell us amazing stories about our ancestors – stories we might not ever know otherwise.

“Doing” History is Like Completing a Puzzle or Solving a Mystery

Imagine asking a question about the past, assembling a set of clues through documents, artifacts, or other sources, and then piecing those clues together to tell a story that answers your question and tells you something unexpected about a different time and place. That’s doing history.

Everything Has a History

Everything we do, everything we use, everything else we study is the product of a complex set of causes, ideas, and practices. Even the material we learn in other courses has important historical elements – whether because our understanding of a topic changed over time or because the discipline takes a historical perspective. There is nothing that cannot become grist for the historian’s mill.

History Careers

  • Overview More
  • Why Study History? More
  • What can I do with a degree in History? (pdf) More

History magnified: It's important to study history.

Why Is It Important to Study History?

Even if you live to be 100, you’ll never run out of new things to learn. From computer science and cryptocurrency to French literature and Spanish grammar, the world is full of knowledge and it’s all at your fingertips. So, why choose history?

Many people study history in high school and come away thinking it’s boring, irrelevant, or both. But as we get older, even just by a few years, we start to see the importance of understanding the past.

Why do we study history?

Why do we study history in the classroom?

We study history because history doesn’t stay behind us. Studying history helps us understand how events in the past made things the way they are today. With lessons from the past, we not only learn about ourselves and how we came to be, but also develop the ability to avoid mistakes and create better paths for our societies.

How does history impact our lives today?

Events in the past have displaced families and groups, changing the makeup of regions and often causing tensions. Such events have also created government systems that have lasted generations beyond when they started. And all of it affects each person alive today.

Take the Great Depression, for example—one of the most difficult but impactful periods in American history. The economic crisis put almost 15 million people out of work and sent countless families into homelessness, stealing their sense of security. Many of those people would feel insecure for the rest of their lives.

The government had to learn how to help . This effort gave rise to Social Security, federal emergency relief programs, and funding for unemployment efforts. These changes continue to make life more secure for millions of Americans. 

Society today comes from hundreds and thousands of actions like these. The more you learn about how these things happened, the better you understand real life.

What lessons can we learn from history?

History teaches us about things such as:

  • Why some societies thrive while others fail.
  • Why humans have gone to war.
  • How people have changed society for the better.

History isn’t a study of others. The people you learn about may have lived decades or even centuries ago, but their actions directly affect how we live our lives today. Events that seem like dates on a page have been turning points in the story of our societies.

“Historical knowledge is no more and no less than carefully and critically constructed collective memory.” -William H. MacNeill, former president of the American Historical Association

Historical research builds and codifies these stories. When we study history, we learn how we got where we are, and why we live the way we do. It’s the study of us—of humans and our place in an ever changing world. Without it, we wouldn’t understand all of our triumphs and failures, and we would continually repeat patterns without building forward to something better.

As Spanish philosopher George Santayana once said, “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it. ” 

How do past events help us understand the present?

How do past events help us understand the present?

The past creates the present. Our modern world exists because of events that happened long before our time. Only by understanding those events can we know how we got here, and where to go next.

1. History helps us understand change

History is full of transitions that have altered the world’s story. When you build your knowledge of history, you understand more about what created our present-day society. 

Studying the American civil rights movement shows you how people organize successfully against oppressive systems. Learning about the fall of Rome teaches you that even the most powerful society can fall apart—and what happens to cause that crumbling.

By learning about different eras and their respective events, you start to see what changes might happen in the future and what would drive that change.

2. We learn from past mistakes

History gives us a better understanding of the world and how it operates. When you study a war, you learn more about how conflict escalates. You learn what dilemmas world leaders face and how they respond—and when those decisions lead to better or worse outcomes.

Historical study shows you the warning signs of many kinds of disaster, from genocide to climate inaction. Understanding these patterns will make you a more informed citizen and help you take action effectively.

3. We gain context for the human experience

Before 2020, most Americans hadn’t lived through a global pandemic. The 1918-1919 flu pandemic had faded from the popular picture of history, overshadowed by World War I on its back end and the Roaring 20s that followed. 

Yet within months of COVID-19 entering the public awareness, historians and informed private citizens were writing about the flu pandemic again. Stories of a deadly second wave were re-told to warn people against the dangers of travel, and pictures of ancestors in masks re-emerged.

Through study of the past, we understand our own lives better. We see patterns as they re-emerge and take solace in the fact that others have gone through similar struggles 

How do we study history?

How do we study history?

There are many ways of studying and teaching history. Many people remember high school classes full of memorization—names, dates, and places of major historical events. 

Decades ago, that kind of rote learning was important, but things have changed. Today, 60% of the world’s population and 90% of the U.S. population use the internet and can find those facts on demand. Today, learning history is about making connections and understanding not just what happened, but why.

Critical thinking

If you’ve ever served on a jury or read about a court case, you know that reconstructing the facts of the past isn’t a simple process. You have to consider the facts at hand, look at how they’re connected, and draw reasonable conclusions. 

Take the fall of Rome , for example. In the Roman Empire’s last years, the central government was unstable yet the empire continued to spend money on expansion. Outside groups like the Huns and Saxons capitalized on that instability and invaded. The empire had split into East and West, further breaking down a sense of unity, and Christianity was replacing the Roman polytheistic religion.

When you become a student of history, you learn how to process facts like these and consider how one event affected the other. An expanding empire is harder to control, and invasions further tax resources. But what caused that instability in the first place? And why did expansion remain so important?

Once you learn how to think this way and ask these kinds of questions, you start engaging more actively with the world around you.

Finding the “So what?” 

The study of history is fascinating, but that’s not the only reason why we do it. Learning the facts and following the thread of a story is just the first step. 

The most important question in history is “So what?”. 

For instance:

  • Why were the Chinese so successful in maintaining their empire in Asia? Why did that change after the Industrial Revolution?
  • Why was the invasion of Normandy in 1944 a turning point? What would happen if Allied forces hadn’t landed on French beaches?

Studying this way helps you see the relevance and importance of history, while giving you a deeper and more lasting understanding of what happened.

Where can I study history online?

Where can I study history online?

The quality of your history education matters. You can read about major historical events on hundreds of websites and through YouTube videos, but it’s hard to know if you’re getting the full story. Many secondary sources are hit-or-miss when it comes to quality history teaching.

It’s best to learn history from a reputable educational institution. edX has history courses from some of the world’s top universities including Harvard , Columbia , and Tel Aviv . Explore one-topic in depth or take an overview approach—it’s completely up to you. The whole world is at your fingertips.

Related Posts

Why is it important to study logistics, are free online courses worth it, why is it important to study supply chain.

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Home — Essay Samples — Education — Study — History’s Value: Influence Of History Background On Modern Well-Being


History's Value: Influence of History Background on Modern Well-being

  • Categories: Oral History Study

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Words: 1524 |

Published: Mar 1, 2019

Words: 1524 | Pages: 3 | 8 min read

Table of contents

History helps us understand people and societies, history provides identity, the importance of history in our own lives, history is useful in the world of work, works cited.

  • acquiring a broad range of historical knowledge and understanding, including a sense of development over time, and an appreciation of the culture and attitudes of societies other than our own
  • evaluating critically the significance and utility of a large body of material, including evidence from contemporary sources and the opinions of more recent historians
  • engaging directly with questions and presenting independent opinions about them in arguments that are well-written, clearly expressed, coherently organized and effectively supported by relevant evidence;
  • gaining the confidence to undertake self-directed learning, making the most effective use of time and resources, and increasingly defining one’s own questions and goals.
  • Carr, E. H. (1961). What is history? Random House.
  • Gaddis, J. L. (2002). The landscape of history: How historians map the past. Oxford University Press.
  • Hobsbawm, E. J. (2012). On history. New Press.
  • Jenkins, K. (2011). Re-thinking history. Routledge.
  • Marwick, A. (2006). The nature of history. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Nash, G. B. (2015). American odyssey: The United States in the twentieth century. Oxford University Press.
  • Scott, J. W. (1991). The evidence of experience. Critical inquiry, 17(4), 773-797.
  • Tosh, J. (2017). The pursuit of history: Aims, methods and new directions in the study of history. Routledge.
  • White, H. (2014). The content of the form: Narrative discourse and historical representation. JHU Press.
  • Wineburg, S. S. (2001). Historical thinking and other unnatural acts: Charting the future of teaching the past. Temple University Press.

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10 Reasons Why History Is Important

History encompasses more than dates, names, and places. It describes how cultures remember events, how those events are presented to the next generation, and how the present engages with the past. In recent years, there’s been a decline in the study of history. Why is this something we should care about? Here are ten reasons why history is important:

#1. History builds a better understanding of the world

How does the world work? How causes societies to thrive or fail? We can answer these questions by studying history. Because it encompasses so many areas – like medical history, art history, economic history, etc – history can give us the fullest picture of how things unfold. Perhaps most importantly, history also provides us with a better understanding of how we got to where we are now.

#2. History helps us understand humanity

Humans are complicated. It can be very challenging to figure out why people do the things they do. When we look at humanity with a broader lens, it can bring more clarity. In many ways, people are products of their environments, which includes the eras they were born in. Studying history can shed light on human behavior throughout time and help explain what’s consistent and what seems to be more dependent on context.

#3. History can teach us to be better citizens

Many people, including teachers, consider history an important part of being a good citizen. Students learn about how different policies affect their rights as citizens and how those rights came to be. For example, the history of voting reveals the many groups involved in ensuring voter equality, including the many Black and Indigenous people in places like the United States, Australia, and Canada. When students learn how hard people in the past worked for their rights, they’re more likely to understand how important they are.

#4. History can help the world make better decisions

“Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it” is arguably the most famous quote about history. It’s credited to philosopher George Santayana and has been repeated by other famous people in various forms. This quote endures because it rings so true. Though many things change through time, some things don’t. Countries that don’t provide basic human rights always experience conflict. When humans hurt the planet, humans end up hurt. These are truths we can confirm by understanding history. If we commit to changing based on what we know, we can make better decisions.

#5. Studying history can improve critical thinking

Learning about history doesn’t inherently lead to better critical thinking, but it’s a great vehicle for improving this skill. Every student of history should dig deeper than just memorizing names and dates. They should ask themselves “why.” You’re also exercising critical thinking when you ask about who records history and how that might affect its presentation. Is there another perspective?

#6. Studying history opens up job opportunities

A degree in history opens up more career options than you might think. History majors find jobs in governments, NGOs, businesses, media organizations, and more. Several high-profile CEOs have backgrounds in history. This shows the value of history and that the skills that go into studying – such as critical thinking – apply to many fields. While knowing certain events and their corresponding dates might not end up being that important to your life, the “soft skills” you picked up in the process are valuable.

#7. Understanding history can protect people from conspiracy theories

Major upheavals in society can be terrifying. They can also be hard to track through one lifetime, so history provides a map for the types of scenarios that lead to big change. Things like increased poverty, war, and distrust in the government have led to more crime and political radicalization . Understanding history and what drives change helps protect people from conspiracy theories, which tend to spread faster during stressful, chaotic times. When unchecked, belief in conspiracy theories can have tragic consequences and lead to real-world violence.

#8. History shapes cultural (and national) identity

History is important to identity. Nations have holidays recognizing big historical events and figures. The stories people tell shape their view of their cultural or national identity, informing how they behave in the present. Leaders understand how important history is and will reference it whenever they believe it will inspire people.

#9. History can be manipulated to fit an agenda

Because history has such a major impact on a nation’s identity, it’s frequently manipulated and controlled. There are many things that certain groups would prefer not to remember. We can see this happening in places like the United States, where teaching about slavery and race has been controversial for decades. History textbooks contain multiple errors, omissions, or interpretations that downplay slavery. Recently, many states are passing laws that ban critical race theory in schools , but the definition isn’t clear and could lead to teachers being penalized for simply teaching about race. History is at the center of this culture war.

#10. History can facilitate empathy

Like critical thinking, history on its own doesn’t necessarily lead to more empathy, but it provides a great canvas. The nonprofit Facing History and Ourselves believes that learning history can play a key role in addressing bigotry and hate. Students can practice “ historical empathy ,” which teaches them to contextualize the actions of people in the past. Using primary sources – which show how events were represented and discussed when they were happening – is a good way to help students understand the past in a more empathetic way.

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