The Contemporary History Institute (CHI) performs a unique function in American higher education today: it analyzes the contemporary period in world affairs — the period from World War II to the present — from an interdisciplinary historical perspective.
CHI is centered in Ohio University’s Department of History, whose faculty enjoy a reputation for excellence in the field of contemporary history and post-World War II studies. At least 14 members of the History faculty specialize in some aspect of recent history. In the past two decades, these scholars have published more than two dozen books dealing with various aspects of the Cold War and post-Cold War periods as well as several major works on World War II and its origins. The depth of knowledge and historical perspective that these scholars offer CHI enables the Institute to bring interpretive clarity to the turbulent complexity of contemporary world affairs.
But the Contemporary History Institute is also fundamentally interdisciplinary in nature. It draws on faculty from the Departments of Political Science and Economics and the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, who lend their distinct disciplinary and methodological perspectives to the enterprise. The synergy of interdisciplinary insights that results provides a powerful analytical foundation for understanding the recent past and the issues confronting us today.
The Institute does not, in itself, grant degrees. Instead, it offers a certificate in contemporary history which serves as an adjunct to the M.A. and Ph.D. programs in history, the M.A. degrees in economics and political science, the M.S. degree in journalism, and the Ph.D. degree in mass communications. Students receive the Institute’s certificate after successfully completing a sequence of interdisciplinary CHI seminars and tutorials focusing on methodologies, themes, and issues in contemporary history, and after writing a thesis or dissertation on a contemporary history topic which meets the requirements of the student’s degree-granting department.
The Contemporary History certificate, when combined with a traditional graduate degree in history, political science, economics, or journalism, opens a wide range of career opportunities for students interested in the application of history to current problems. Among the most important are employment in academia, government, journalism, telecommunications, business, and law. Students earning the certificate with the M.A. or M.S. degree are also in a strong position to pursue further graduate education at the doctoral level at Ohio University or elsewhere.