Richard Morris, history

I enjoy learning, and the classroom enables me to share that interest with others. As a historian, teaching also gives me the opportunity, indeed the obligation, to continue learning in order to introduce students to the latest insights developed by scholars who continue to illuminate the past.

I chose to teach history because like most historians, I believe that we study the past not to avoid the mistakes of bygone eras, but to better understand the human condition generally and ourselves in particular. To understand ourselves, we must know where the ideas and values that define our belief systems and shape our behaviors emerged and why those values and beliefs persisted over time.

I tell my students that many academic disciplines seek a better understanding of the human condition, but that history does it best. I tell them that psychologists seek to understand people by injecting caffeine into rats, and that sociologists seek that understanding by sending out questionnaires that no one answers honestly, while students of literature believe that if something is said eloquently enough then it must be true; on the other hand, historians seek to understand the human condition by examining the actions of people over time.

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