History and Political Studies Empowers Lifelong Learners



“Universities exist to extend knowledge, not just conserve it and pass it down,” says Lisa Diller, PhD, professor of History and Political Studies at Southern Adventist University. To help students learn to expand their knowledge and share it, the department hosted two events on campus last semester centered on research: a convocation featuring Civil War expert Ed Lowe, retired Army Colonel, and the 21st annual Southeast Tennessee Undergraduate History Conference, where students from local universities shared their research with professors and fellow students.

Lowe published “A Fine Opportunity Lost” earlier this year as part of an ongoing book series by numerous authors called the Emerging Civil War Series, which provides an accessible overview of the Civil War. During the convocation, Lowe spoke to students about the lengthy writing process for his book as well as the battles from the Knoxville area represented in it.

“Local historians and authors provide students with an opportunity to see firsthand how history is done,” shares Michael Weismeyer, chair of the History and Political Studies Department.

At the Southeast Tennessee Undergraduate History Conference held on campus, students from Covenant College, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Lee University, Dalton State College, and Southern Adventist University presented on a wide variety of topics, from gender in pre-modern Europe to causes of the Crimean war.

“Students get professional presenting experience in front of an audience of experts in their field,” Diller explains. “They get inspired by seeing the kinds of topics and approaches taken by students at other schools, and they get more confident about their own experience. Also, it’s fun!”

“Research helps broaden our perspective and add new context to existing knowledge,” explains Aly Lopes, sophomore history major. During the conference, Lopes gained insight into unfamiliar topics and learned new research methods. In addition, Lopes says, “We got to meet and talk with people from other schools and build connections with them.”

The History and Political Studies Department at Southern creates rich, engaging opportunities for students to learn more about the research process and practice it themselves. As Diller explains, “A university education should equip students with skills to ask new and interesting questions and then track down evidence or make new creations to help answer those questions.”

The views and opinions of campus guests do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Southern Adventist University. An individual's or group's invitation to speak or present on campus should not be regarded as a university endorsement of their philosophies and beliefs.