Passer au contenu

/ Department of History

Je donne


What is history?

The liberation of Paris, 1944
Poster The liberation of Paris, 1944

History is one of the oldest of all the disciplines studying human evolution. It holds an essential place in the life of every society.

History is the knowledge - as complete as possible - of the paths followed by previous generations. It is humankind's memory. As such, it constitutes a huge reservoir of experiences. All the issues analyzed by humanities experts have a historical dimension, in fact, because they occurred at some point in the past.

This is why an understanding of the present-day phenomena shaping societies is so important. Studying history means examining the past in order to have insight into the key issues of our time and contribute to plotting a course for the future.

In practice, historians must scrutinize a very often massive variety of documents, from many angles. It is also important that they put themselves in the shoes of people of that time, so as to be able to rigorously interpret evidence remaining from the period in question. Lastly, they must pull together all the information gathered and formulate articulate, persuasive conclusions.

History is a human science that formulates questions and offers explanations. It is essential for informed decision making. We have come very far from the study of history that involved merely memorizing dates and events, and focused almost exclusively on the deeds of famous figures.